Santa Claus makes early stop for children with special needs in Regina

Santa Claus makes early stop for children with special needs in Regina

Most children only get one chance a year to meet with Santa Claus .

That’s why the jolly man himself made an early stop at a downtown Regina hotel on Tuesday to hear from a group of children with special needs .

“He’s able to treat them as they should be — very special, in an environment where they’re very comfortable and with their friends,” said Hope McCheyne, head elf and organizer of the event.

“They get to be themselves and just be free. Don’t we all want that?”

With more private meeting space and no long lines, children got comfortable and interacted with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

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The visit marked the 31st annual Santa Face-to-Face, hosted by SaskTel, that also provided a morning of holiday games and activities. Gainer the Gopher, the Saskatchewan Roughriders mascot, was also on hand to entertain the kids.

“Elves come from the North Pole, and they get partnered up with a child for the morning. They play, there’s balloons, there’s face painting,” said McCheyne, who’s helped organize the annual event for 30 years.

Those elves are SaskTel volunteers, dressed in festive sweaters and hats to mark the occasion. The event has helped at least one volunteer get into the holiday mood.

“I’m not a Christmas person at all. If anyone knows me, the nickname is Scrooge and Grinch and everything like that,” said Jocelyn Okoktoks, who is volunteering for her second year in a row.

“But it’s nice and rewarding to do something like this, and just see the smile on kids’ faces.”
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