Santa Calling program reignites holiday spirit for kids from Puerto Rico

By Stephanie Bechara, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 29, 2017, 9:56 AM EST

Things will certainly be different this holiday season in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria, but for those who have made central Florida their new home, one special holiday program is reigniting the spirit of the season.

  • Santa Calling lets children receive calls from Santa, Mrs. Claus
  • Program anticipating influx of children from Puerto Rico
  • Phone calls made in English and Spanish

Four-year-old Annelys Colon’s obsession is toys.

“Me? I want unicorn, puppies …”

That's something Annelys will be telling Santa when he calls her this holiday season.

She is participating in the City of Kissimmee’s Santa Calling program, where children will receive phone calls from Santa and Mrs. Claus per requests.

It’s all hands on deck in the city this year. They expect to organize more calls than usual because of the thousands of Puerto Rican children that have come here after Hurricane Maria battered the island.

“This time of the year in Puerto Rico is always a time to celebrate, be with family, filled with music and food," said Melissa Zayas Moreno, spokesperson with the City of Kissimmee.

"And being far away from home can be a little hard, but coming here we want them to feel the same and get that extra support and the holiday spirit that will definitely help them get through these months and get acclimated to their new home.”

Annelys’ mom Brenda Alicea, who has taken in family from Puerto Rico, expects more relatives here during Christmas.

“What’s happened in Puerto Rico is really tough,” Alicea said. “People are suffering a lot and that suffering reaches the kids … So hopefully with this they can have a beautiful Christmas.”

Phone calls will be made both in English and Spanish on Dec. 6, but the last day to make a request is Wednesday, Nov. 29.

To send in your request for a phone call from Santa, email the following information to: santa@kissimmee.org.

  • Child’s name and pronunciation
  • Age (10 years old or younger)
  • English or Spanish speaker
  • Gender
  • Phone number
  • A list of what they want from Santa Claus
  • Names and ages of the siblings
  • School/ Grade/ teacher
  • Pet type and their names
  • Parents, what would you like your child to improve on?
  • Do you have an Elf on the Shelf? Is it a girl or a boy? Name?
  • Best time to call between 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6

Or drop off your request at the following locations:

  • Oak Street Park Community Center
  • Chambers Park Community Center
  • Kissimmee Civic Center
  • Kissimmee City Hall
  • Kissimmee Police Department

Remember “Santa Calling” is a phone calling service and not a gift giving service.