Brown and Blue Santa programs

City, county organizations aim to serve families in need during the holiday season

Blue and Brown Santa programs in Georgetown and Williamson County, respectively, work to make sure every family in the city or county can give their children gifts for the holidays.

Volunteers distribute applications to families who show signs of financial hardship. For example, students on free- or reduced-lunch programs in area school districts may be given an opportunity to sign up.

Applications are available at the Georgetown Police Department or Williamson County Sheriff's Office.

Both Blue and Brown Santa volunteers will be distributing toys to residents approved for the program on Saturday, Dec. 14 in Georgetown. To learn more about how to volunteer, visit www.bluesanta.georgetown.org or www.wilcobrownsanta.com.

Blue Santa

GPD has provided toys to children of low-income families in the city for more than 15 years.

The deadline for submitting Blue Santa applications was Dec. 5, and as of press time the program had collected applications from more than 600 families, with more than 1,700 children.

During the past 15 years, the amount of donated toys and funds, as well as volunteer hours, has increased, according to GPD Volunteer Services Director Linda Lipscomb.

"Last year we had a little over 1,800 [children served]." Lipscomb said. "The year before that we had over 1,900."

Members of the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association make up the bulk of volunteers who organize, sort and distribute toy donations.

"If everyone [in the department] stopped doing police work, we wouldn't be able to [coordinate the program]," Blue Santa Coordinator Lt. Jim Seals said. "[The volunteers] run this massive program."

Donations of new toys make up about two-thirds of the items that are distributed through the Blue Santa program each year, Lipscomb said, while monetary donations are used to purchase the rest.

Community volunteers are mostly used to host toy drives to benefit the program, Lipscomb said, because CPAAA volunteers take care of the organization and distribution of toys.

"It makes it easier to have people working on that behalf while we're trying to fill the need," she said. "Our objective is not to have to go buy toys at all."

Boxes distributed to families at Christmastime include five age-specific gifts for each child listed in the parent or guardian's application. Volunteers will also provide wrapping paper, if parents wish to wrap the gifts for their children themselves.

Brown Santa

Volunteers within the Williamson County Sheriff's Office oversee the operations of Brown Santa, which serves families throughout Williamson County.

For more than 20 years, the Brown Santa program has held toy drives and distribution days for families in Williamson County.

The deadline for applications was Dec. 6.

Community volunteers are what really keep the program running, said Capt. Mike Gleason, president of the Brown Santa board.

"Outside the department is an infinite number [of] volunteers," he said. "Volunteers come to us. There are always churches, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and neighborhoods and clubs —they're always looking for a project."

In addition to volunteer hours and toy donations, the sheriff's department raises money for Brown Santa operations with events such as a golf tournament in the spring and a haunted house in Georgetown at Halloween.

"We have a week out of haunted house mode before we go into Brown Santa mode," Gleason said. "[The applications] really start coming right after Thanksgiving."

Proof of residency is the only requirement Brown Santa has for residents to benefit from the program's services. By mid-November, Gleason said they had already received about 40 applications.

In past years, Brown Santa has provided toys for more than 700 families in the county, which leads to totals of about 1,700 children, said Williamson County Communication Coordinator Kathi Wysong.

"Each child [in a family] usually gets a toy, a book and a stuffed animal," Gleason said. "Then we send the parents home with some wrapping paper to distribute and wrap as they see fit."

Georgetown Blue Santa, 512-930-2747, www.bluesanta.georgetown.org

Williamson County Brown Santa, 512-943-1313, www.wilcobrownsanta.com



MOST RECENT

The Williamson County and Cities Health District confirmed 37 additional coronavirus cases July 10, bringing the total to 3,654. (Community Impact Staff)
37 new cases of coronavirus, 1 death confirmed in Williamson County on July 10

Currently, 103 patients are hospitalized, 32 are in intensive care and 16 are on a ventilator.

The species that tested positive for West Nile Virus is Culex quinquefasciatus, or the southern house mosquito. This species has a flight range of about one mile. ​(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus near southwest Williamson County Regional Park

There have been no reported human cases of West Nile Virus in Williamson County since 2017.

Williamson County sees 844 new coronavirus cases this week

Between July 4 and July 10, Williamson County also reported 9 additional deaths.

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Education organizations call for STAAR requirements to be waived another year

Gov. Greg Abbott waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements in March of earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With a clinical background in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Corry has been with BCM for 20 years. He now focuses primarily on inflammatory lung diseases, such as asthma and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. David Corry discusses immunity, vaccine production amid COVID-19 pandemic

Rapid development and distribution of a vaccine worldwide and successful achievement of herd immunity will be key players in determining the lifespan of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. David Corry, a professor of Medicine in the Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology Section at Baylor College of Medicine.

The new partnership will provide on-site, same-day testing and results for assisted-living facility staff and their residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
State announces partnership for increased COVID-19 testing for patients, staff at assisted-living facilities, nursing homes

These test sites will help the state work toward the goal of processing up to 100,000 tests in the first month.

USA FIT Georgetown is now open for registration. (Courtesy USA FIT)
National marathon training organization launches Georgetown chapter, invites all fitness levels to join

There are also educational seminars on important training; nutritional and racing information; informative newsletters; and social group events, such as after-training breakfasts, happy hours and more.

Former Cedar Park Police Department Chief Sean Mannix is pictured in this 2015 file photo. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)
Cedar Park police chief moves to Burnet, driver's license offices reopen: Most popular news this week from Central Texas

Read the most popular Central Texas news from the past week on Community Impact Newspaper's website.

Williamson County reported 175 additional cases of coronavirus July 9. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
175 cases of coronavirus, 2 deaths confirmed in Williamson County on July 9

The Williamosn County and Cities Health District reported 23% of hospital beds and 9% of ICU beds are available.

Effective July 9, hospitals in more than 100 counties across the state must now postpone elective surgeries unrelated to COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Governor expands restrictions on elective surgeries to more than 100 Texas counties

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the restrictions that initially required only hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures that are unrelated to COVID-19.

Reported coronavirus cases jumped nearly 400% over the past month in Williamson County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Reported coronavirus cases jump nearly 400% over past month in Williamson County

Coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations also saw the largest increase in the past 30 days.