Rent-A-Santa already booking reservations for Christmas time
Doctors may not make house calls any more, but Santa Claus does-thanks to the Rent-A-Santa program sponsored by Zonta Club of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Santa, with a full entourage of elves and Mrs. Claus, is available for community events, private or corporate parties, family holiday get-togethers and personal visits with local children, with proceeds helping to support Zonta’s local and international projects.
Cost is $100 for up to one hour or $150 for two hours, and early reservations are recommended, especially for the most popular few weekends before Christmas. A professional keyboard musician with a repertoire of Christmas carols is available for an additional $50.
Zonta Club is still seeking volunteers to fill out its ranks of Santas for the holiday event. The club has a supply of costumes and handles all the booking arrangements.
“There’s something about being Santa that brings out the personality in our volunteers,” said Linda Storli, who along with husband Dennis Koontz are the most frequently booked Santa couple in the program. “Even people who are shy in person light up when they see the look in kids’ eyes at the sight of Santa.”
Santa Clarita Valley’s Santas come from all walks of life. Storli is a teacher and active community volunteer. Santa Dennis Koontz is a retired firefighter and former City Council member who currently serves as the “nurse dude” at Valencia High School.
“We’re still awaiting confirmations from a number of Santas who have served in previous years, but if the calls continue to come in as they have been doing, we are going to need all the Santa volunteers we can get,” said Barbara Stearns-Cochran, Rent-A-Santa chair for reservations.
Zonta Club is hoping to bring in a record $6,000 with this year’s Rent-A-Santa program—the third largest fund-raising event in the club’s local calendar after the Celebrity Tribute and Zonta Golf Tournament. The club uses its money to support Zonta International’s mission of advancing the status of women around the globe. Internationally, the club’s focus is on health issues and elimination of abuse against women worldwide.
Locally, Zonta Club administers the Virginia Wrage Memorial grant program to help women who are facing a life-changing crisis. The club also hosts the annual Status of Women Celebration which honors outstanding women from organizations throughout the community, and selects a Young Women in Public Affairs winner to carry the community’s standard in district and, hopefully, national and international competition.
Zonta has established the Healthy Kids Club for young girls from the Val Verde community, encouraging them to break the cycle of poverty, gangs, drugs and early pregnancy that robs many of their peers of their full potential. In addition to hosting educational and character-building programs for younger girls, the club offers a scholarship to Healthy Kids Club alumnae who go on to college.
The club also sponsors Healthy Woman’s Day, which offers free screenings for breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol to local women who are uninsured or underinsured.
The local Zonta Club has more than 65 members, making it one of the largest clubs in District 9, which encompasses California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, and Sonora, Mexico. The club’s work last year earned the District 9 Deborah Roberts Recognition Award for exemplary overall performance in the fields of international service, community action, membership, newsletter and club management.
“One of the things that makes our Zonta Club outstanding is the community outreach programs such as Rent-A-Santa,” said Jo Ann Rodriguez, local club president. “We make a lot of local children happy while earning money to support our worthwhile causes.” She also lauded the number of club members, spouses and community volunteers who give their time during the busy holiday season to make the program a success.
Local residents interested in reserving a visit from Santa or prospective Santas interested in volunteering their time can call Stearns-Cochran at (661) 251-1352 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.