KFOR’s Operation Santa Claus
During the Christmas season of 1948, two gentlemen from KFOR Radio in Lincoln, Nebraska, Hap Anderson and “Oats” Siegler, conceived an idea that they felt would be a great service to their community. The idea was that every child in Lincoln’s orphanages should be able to ask Santa for a specific toy, and then receive that toy from Santa.
They decided to visit every orphanage in Lincoln and interview the orphans about what they would want from Santa. Then they would buy those very gifts at Lincoln’s retail stores, wrap them, and just before Christmas, dressed as Santa, they would deliver those gifts to the orphans. They would ask their KFOR listeners to send cash to the radio station to pay for the gifts.
The concept was meant to let these kids know that someone cared for them as individuals, rather than as a nameless group who normally would receive undesignated gifts only. This concept worked beautifully, serving about 200 orphans that first year. Since that first year, the program has continued on KFOR every year.
Throughout the years there have been some changes. There are not many children in orphanages now. Today, most of the less fortunate children live with their parents, or in foster homes. The number of less fortunate children has grown tremendously since 1948. Over the last ten years, the number of children served by Operation Santa has ranged from 2,600 to over 3,800 depending on the year.
Though the number of children has increased, the concept remains the same: TO BUY AN INDIVIDUAL TOY OF THE CHILD’S CHOICE FOR EVERY LESS FORTUNATE CHILD IN LINCOLN.
Here is how it works now. Social service agencies in Lincoln (such as Lancaster County Health Department, Catholic Social Services, Malone Center and Hispanic Community Center to name a few), through their caseworkers, interview eligible families and find out what the children in those families would like from Santa. The requests are forwarded to volunteers at the Nebraska National Guard. The volunteers assign each family a number, check for duplication and forward the requests to KFOR Radio. KFOR works with local stores as well as KFOR employees who purchase the gifts. After the gifts are purchased they attached the pre-made name tags (To: _________ FROM: Santa), and deliver them to the National Guard. The guard volunteers separate them into the correct family units and deliver the gifts to the appropriate social service agency. The families receive the gifts in time for Christmas and the circle is complete.
All of the money needed to buy the gifts is sent to KFOR by listeners. No soliciting is done, except on-air and no on-air solicitations are made until November. And now, donations can be made ONLINE. Just click on the DONATE button above or below.
All moneys collected are deposited in a separate bank account and are not co-mingled with KFOR funds. All of the money raised is used to buy gifts, with the exception of the amount needed to print the necessary forms. Financial reports are filed annually with the City of Lincoln and Internal Revenue Service.
EVERY cash contribution is acknowledged on the air, and by mail.
All of the time involved is donated by KFOR employees as well as National Guard members, and social service workers. KFOR contributes heavily to the cause in a financial way also, and many have been heard to say that this project means as much to them as their own Christmas.
KFOR’s Operation Santa Claus uniquely fills a community need each year.
To send a monitary donation, please click on the Donate button below, drop your donation off at the station, or send it to us via mail using the address below. Please be sure to mark on the envelope "KFOR Op Santa".
Contact: Vicki Marker (325-7735)
KFOR Operation Santa Claus
3800 Cornhusker Hwy.
Lincoln, NE 68504