About Friends of Santa Claus
Friends of Santa Claus is a non-profit organization that gives financial and emotional support to children with cancer and their families. Founded in 1993 in Hendersonville, North Carolina by Ted and Barbara Van Thullenar, the Friends of Santa Claus currently serves families throughout North Carolina and in northern South Carolina. Since the program's inception, we have been committed to maintaining our status as a volunteer-only organization. We have 10 hands on, hard working volunteer board members who serve on our board for one reason - they love the kids. We also have a unique group of over 100 volunteer counselors who give their time and talent to make a difference in the lives of these children. Thanks to all our dedicated volunteers, EVERY penny we raise goes toward events that provide smiles, joy and laughter for these courageous children.
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, his or her entire family is affected by an enormous financial, social, and psychological burden. As one mother said, "Nothing in the life of my family is normal anymore!" Friends of Santa Claus strives to show these brave families that we care about them, we want to give them hope, and we want to provide them with special moments of joy and laughter. In order to achieve these goals, Friends of Santa Claus offers a variety of activities, including: Camp MerryTimes summer camp, a Charleston get-away weekend for the whole family, two annual family fun days, a Christmas carnival day, and a teen team building weekend. We also brighten the children's tough hospital stays by sending them balloon bouquets, stuffed animals, and lots of hugs and kisses, as well as fulfilling "Special Wishes" for children who have a relapse. More information about "Special Wishes"
Many of these children experience traumatic physical changes, including hair loss, facial swelling from medications, or even the loss of a limb, making them different from their peers. At Friends of Santa Claus events, the kids and their siblings are treated with unconditional love and laughter, so they can continue to experience the magic of their childhood during these trying times.
As you can tell by our name, the jolly old man in red is very special to our organization, just as he is in the lives of these children. In fact, Santa Claus comes to EVERY event we have, bringing each child a present. The real joy comes every time Santa walks into the room. WOW! The smiles on their faces are a sight to behold!!
Saving for college is something a family should not have to think about while their child is fighting cancer. As the young adults in our program were graduating from high school and choosing to continue their education, we recognized the need for assistance with the rising cost of attending college. As a result, Friends of Santa Claus established a scholarship fund in memory of our co-founder, Ted Van Thullenar, who passed away following a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. The scholarship is $2,500.00 each year for 4 years at a college or technical school. More information about the Scholarships program
Thank you for visiting our web site. We invite you to browse through the different areas and experience the smiles, joy and laughter we bring to children who deal with the daily struggles of living with cancer. As one Mom said: "Friends of Santa Claus gives hurting kids...happy times!"