Operation Santa Claus: More than 30 Years of Delivering Joy

Melissa Nocero

By Melissa Nocero | December 19, 2018

This past Friday, associates and advisers from Penn Mutual helped out Santa Claus by delivering toys to the kids at Rutledge Primary School in Rutledge, Tennessee. We call it “Operation Santa Claus,” where hundreds of associates give of themselves to make Christmas a little bit brighter for the 177 pre-K to first grade students at the school.

Penn Mutual has been doing this for over 30 years. It all began with an associate of ours, who had family in the Rutledge area, which has a high level of poverty. A few women at Penn Mutual’s home office began sewing doll clothing for the girls at the school. This was a big hit with the kids, and the effort morphed over the years to become Operation Santa Claus. Where once we supported only one or two classes, we now provide gifts and holiday cheer for the entire school.

Wrapping presents

Hundreds of Penn Mutual associates joined in to provide presents for children in Tennessee.

How does it work? The teachers of Rutledge Primary work with the Community Outreach team here at Penn Mutual, providing us with the kids’ wishes from Santa. Our associates then adopt a child by picking one name each off a list and bring in an unwrapped gift for that specific child. We then hold a huge giftwrapping party at our home office. This year’s was on December 5 with associates pitching in to help. Once wrapped, we mail the gifts down to Tennessee.

Packing shipping boxes full of presents

Associates at Penn Mutual’s home office wrapped presents for 177 children in Tennessee in Operation Santa Claus

This year we teamed with our field office in Brentwood, Tennessee, which gathered a third of the gifts to fulfill the children’s holiday wishes. The associates at the Brentwood office traveled to Rutledge to deliver their gifts, and our gifts met them there that day.

Rutledge held a Holiday Luncheon for the kids, who all got to wear their pajamas to school that day. After all, isn’t it tradition to open your Christmas presents in your pajamas? The school set up all the gifts for the children and Santa showed up to make the day all that more special.

Each year the kids look forward to this event and it means a lot to them, but I think being able to make it all possible means a lot to us at Penn Mutual as well.

This is a huge operation for us, with many people that get involved, and I would like to thank everyone who helped. We have a group of 12 Penn Mutual associates in the Community Outreach team, along with many volunteers that hand out the children’s names and wishes, collect the gifts or host the wrapping party. Altogether, around 100 people help make this happen.

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