News and Events
Annual Santa Run Brings Holiday Cheer to Children in Mexico
For too many children in Mexico, amenities like toothpaste and socks are a luxury. This holiday season, 130 of these disadvantaged children received a special treat for Christmas from the Pepperdine community.
In vehicles brimming with gifts, thirty students, faculty, and staff recently caravanned to Mexico to hand-deliver toys, clothing, and practical items such as toothpaste and combs to the children of San Felipe and Tijuana. Upon their arrival, volunteers spent a full day in each city and held Christmas celebrations for the children, complete with games, crafts, food, and presents.
The annual caravan and holiday celebration, known affectionately as the “Santa Run,” has become a Pepperdine tradition since its inception over twenty years ago by members of the Malibu Church of Christ. Now organized by students in the University’s Volunteer Center and Campus Ministry, the Santa Run has blossomed into an event that unites the University community with churches and orphanages in Mexico.
The Santa Run actually begins just before Thanksgiving, when calls are placed to churches and an orphanage in Mexico requesting the names of children. Their gender, ages, and specifications are then placed on cards in the shape of ornaments and hung on Christmas trees around the Malibu campus. Individuals and groups pick a slip of paper and package gifts for one child, and deliver the gifts to the Volunteer Center and Campus Ministry offices. Every year, about 100 students, faculty, and staff provide both gifts and campus meal points, which are translated into dollars and used to buy food for the volunteers on the trip.
“Neither words nor pictures can fully express the joy each child felt,” says Ashley Nolan, Pepperdine’s volunteer projects coordinator. “Everything from the special toy to the new pair of pants was a tremendous gift to them. Most importantly, it was the love that came with the gifts—that traveled across borders, class, age, and race to brighten a child’s holiday.”
Celebrating with these children year after year has a way of putting the holidays in perspective. “Santa Run is a special event,” explains Nolan, “because it brings the Pepperdine community together to give to those in need, and reminds us of the true meaning of the holiday season.”