History of the Star Santa Claus Fund
The Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund was established in 1906 by Toronto Star Founder, Joseph E. Atkinson. Atkinson knew of poverty first-hand. His father was killed in a tragic accident when he was six months old. Left with eight young children to raise, his mother struggled to support the family.
It was a very special Christmas in Atkinson’s own childhood that brought out his dedication to help the poor. As the story goes, one day young Joseph was watching other children skate on the pond. A lady approached and asked him why he wasn’t skating. When she heard his sad tale, she bought him his first pair of skates for Christmas. Atkinson never forgot the warmth and generosity of the stranger who made this Christmas Day the happiest of his childhood.
Years later, Atkinson used The Toronto Star Newspaper to tell readers the stories of other needy children. He asked readers to contribute money, which was used to buy Christmas gifts. The gifts of fruit, candy, socks and mitts were distributed through his local Toronto church, Little Trinity. This tradition lives on with a reporter still writing daily articles about the plight of needy children eight weeks prior to Christmas.
The gift packages may have changed with the times but the basic concept remains. Today, bright gift boxes are filled with a warm sweater, socks, mittens, hat, book, toy, candy, toothbrush and toothpaste. The merchandise is purchased directly from manufacturers at significant cost-savings. Great consideration is given to each item purchased for the gift box — quality, style, safety, value, variety and reflect age, not gender. 100% of all monies donated is spent on purchasing the items contained in the gift boxes. The Toronto Star pays for all administrative costs to the Fund. As a result, only cash contributions can be accepted, not donations of product or services-in-kind.
For the first time in its history, The Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund expanded its services in 2002 to assist families in Brampton and Mississauga, as well as Toronto. In 2004, gift boxes were delivered to children in Ajax and Pickering as well. To help raise funds, The Brampton Guardian, The Mississauga News and The Ajax-Pickering News Advertiser feature regular stories in their papers. Ontario Works and nearly 90 social service agencies in Toronto, Peel and Durham Region, submit the names of eligible children. Just as they were in 1906, the gift boxes were delivered directly to the homes of children, by volunteers such as Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, church groups, etc.
The 2008 Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund goal was $1.5 million, which enabled us to distribute Christmas gift boxes to 45,000 needy children. 102 years later, the generosity of our readers continues to make Christmas a little bit happier for less fortunate children! Joseph Atkinson would be pleased and proud.
To make a VISA or MasterCard donation by phone, please call our hotline at 416-869-4847.
Cheques or money orders can be made payable year-round and mailed to The Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund, One Yonge Street, 9th Floor, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1E6. Online donations can be made by visiting www.thestar.com/santaclausfund
All donations made in 2008 will receive a tax receipt for income tax purposes after the campaign in January 2009. Acknowledgement cards are available upon request by calling 416-869-4847. Donor contributions are published in the newspaper during the campaign. All contributions are published in the newspaper. Options available are as follows: Example #1: In memory of Mrs. Smith; #2: Anonymous; #3: In lieu of gifts to ABC Co. clients.
The Toronto Star Children’s Charities: Charitable Registration #11926 7425 RR0001