AK DOC Today

News, Events, and Activities in the Alaska Department of Corrections

Mat-Su Special Santa Program

The Mat-Su Special Santa Program works to bring families in need of the Matanuska Susitna Valley the magic of Christmas for children newborn to 18 years of age. They have been serving the Mat-Su Valley since 1997 and are headquartered in Palmer. They provide toys, winter wear, toiletries, bedding and other much needed items to children in need.

The program is headed by Mari Jo Parks, CEO (Chief Elf Organizer). The program began in 1997 with a few volunteers and 90 children. In 2014, the Mat-Su Special Santa Program brought the magic of Christmas to over 3500 children from 1223 families. The Special Santa Program is a 501 (c)(3), under the umbrella of Alaska Family Services, a non-profit that provides services for women, children and their families. They are the Toys for Tots distributor for the Mat-Su Valley. Families are referred to them through programs they coordinate with including local food banks, agencies that assist families in need, schools, churches, the foster care program, Salvation Army, and other programs offering assistance at Christmas.

Mrs. Claus was on hand to accept the toys for the Mat-Su Special Santa Program. She had a great time. Mrs. Claus expressed her thanks to Goose Creek for taking some of the load off Santa and his elves this year. She is looking forward to seeing all the projects for next year as well.

The inmates worked on the toys for approximately 3 months. The workers expressed great interest in keeping this program running throughout the coming year. We have had several positive responses from the inmate workers and staff. Making toys for the Mat-Su Special Santa Program provides a positive and uplifting environment at Goose Creek and provides a special avenue for the workers to give back to our community.