Since 1994, the university community has come together to brighten the holiday season of our fellow Longhorns through Orange Santa, a program started by the UT Cares Committee that is designed to support UT families in need of assistance during the holidays by providing gifts for their children.
Prior to the pandemic, the Orange Santa Holiday Store provided an annual opportunity for participating faculty, staff and students to "shop" for gifts and toys for children in their immediate families. The store was stocked with items contributed through a campus-wide donation drive as well as items collected at special events.
Due to the need for physical distancing and the university's efforts to Protect Texas Together, Orange Santa transitioned to a complete virtual program in 2020, with applicants receiving a gift card for each child (17 and under) in their household. The 2021 program will continue using a slightly updated 2020 model.
In December 2020, Orange Santa served 464 families, providing gift cards to more than 1,000 children.
Orange Santa also has a long-established partnership with the Hispanic Faculty and Staff Association (HFSA) and the John Treviño Jr. Holiday Assistance Program, a companion project that provides assistance with a holiday meal.
Orange Santa and the HFSA John Treviño Jr. Holiday Assistance Program provide resources for UT employees and students in need of assistance but they also serve as an opportunity for the larger university community to contribute to meeting those needs and to participate in this very special, burnt orange season of caring on the UT Austin campus.
Orange Santa is sponsored by the Office of the President. It is a collaborative program of the UT Cares Committee involving individuals and groups from colleges, schools and administrative units across the campus. It is made possible through the support and contributions of numerous friends within The University of Texas at Austin community.