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Letters to Santa seeking generous elf helpers
Letters to Santa
Natalie Ledesma eagerly takes her bag full of gifts from Santa Claus at the 2019 Julien Elementary School Letters to Santa gift event (Journal file photo).

After an absence of three years, the popular Letters to Santa Charity live event will return on Oct. 21 at the Assyrian American Civic Club, 2618 N. Golden State Blvd., Turlock.

To help ensure that the charity event’s return is successful, the Letters to Santa board is seeking sponsors.

“COVID kind of messed with the original format,” said board secretary Amanda Packnit. “The past three years, we had an online platform that had a lot of support from the local businesses, so we were still able to help children in the community.”

Even without the live event, which features a dinner and auction, Letters to Santa was able to raise about $90,000 for local school children.

Founded 14 years ago by local firefighter Justin Crone, Letters to Santa started with kids writing letters, informing Santa Claus of their needs. That’s changed somewhat, as the charity works with school districts in Turlock, Denair, Keyes, Ceres, Modesto and Waterford to identify students most in need. Then, the charity meets those needs, whether it’s clothes, blankets, food or presents during the holidays.

“It started with a golf tournament,” said Packnit. “It just progressed until it became a live event.”

Sponsorship packages are as follows:

The Elf — For $1,000 you get 12 dinner tickets and a listing for your business in the event program.

Santa’s Helper — Includes 12 tickets, with a business logo or quarter-page advertisement in the program. Cost is $1,500.

Santa’s Sleigh — For $2,500, you get 12 tickets and a half-page ad in the program.

Polar Express — Premiere seating for 12 includes a bottle of wine and a premiere marketing package, for $3,500.

North Pole —  Features 14 VIP seats, three bottles of wine and a VIP marketing package or $5,000.

The last live event brought in $280,000.

“We’re fortunate that we’re able to help kids with this event,” said Packnit. “Every penny goes to the kiddos. It’s all volunteer-based; nobody gets paid. Everybody does it out of a passion to help. I was a teacher myself for Turlock Unified School District and saw firsthand how the charity works and how it’s helped. I just fell in love with Letters to Santa.”

For information on how to support the Letters to Santa Charity event, or to purchase tickets, visit