Christmas is coming a bit early in Dedham, Massachusetts, this year. Old Saint Nick has a new approach to make sure holiday cheer is the only thing he’s spreading.
The town’s Youth Commission is setting up socially-distant visits with Santa, mobile visits that help with their fundraising efforts this year.
“The children have been wonderful this year," said Chuck Dello Iacono, a Santa participating in the program. "They’ve been so patient. Their parents, well that’s a different story, but the children have been wonderful.”
Families can pick a time slot and then Santa stops by for a photo-op outside, in exchange for a gift card to help someone in need.
Michelle Casey lives in town and scheduled a visit.
"Since we’re not going to be able to do them the traditional way this year we thought this was a fun way to do it," Casey says.
Melissa Mixer says she also doesn’t plan to get her traditional pictures at the mall this year.
“Figured I would do something good and donate and get a pic with Santa -- kind of a win-win” Mixer says.
Youth Commission Director Robert Blaney says they opened 45 time slots to the public and sold out in just two days.
Each year he says they typically help around 300 kids with gifts and toys around the holidays. But he says this year the number is higher than ever.
“We’ve got more families for the first time that have either lost their hours lost their second jobs who just need help” Blaney says.
Thanks to several fundraising initiatives, he says they're on track to raise at least $20,000 for gift cards to give out for the holidays.