Santa Claus Inc. celebrates 70 years of Christmas miracles for San Bernardino County children – San Bernardino Sun

The North Pole is surprisingly easy to miss if you don’t know where in San Bernardino to look.

And even if you do, it’s hard to believe such a small space could have such an outsized impact.

Santa Claus Inc. of Greater San Bernardino is celebrating 70 years of gift giving this season and gearing up for the time of year families in the region need a Christmas miracle most.

With the December holiday a month away, the beloved nonprofit is preparing to help struggling parents throughout San Bernardino County check items off their children’s wish lists at no cost, a favor so desperately needed by many no matter the year.

“We serve too many families in the Inland Empire to fail,” Executive Director Karen DiCarlo, who first volunteered with the nonprofit nearly 30 years ago, said on a recent tour of the operation. “Seventy years is a long time for any organization to be active, and we never stopped.

“We just continued to grow.”

Cheryl Dumaine, who has volunteered at Santa Claus Inc. for 20 years, recalled a time when the organization wanted to serve 5,000 children at Christmastime.

Two decades later, the goal is 15,000.


At 81, Dumaine says she’s no “spring chicken.” But she has no plans to stop anytime soon.

“You feel so good helping a family that’s struggling,” said Dumaine, who’s in charge of the nonprofit’s clothing department. “If we can help them by giving a little joy to their children, it makes a whole year’s worth of work worth it.”

In two weeks, San Bernardino County families will enter Santa Claus Inc.’s modest Sixth Street warehouse with empty hands and leave with Santa sacks brimming with toys, books and clothes.

Like the nonprofit’s list of volunteers, its list of partners is extensive, and includes major retailers and distributors.

Whatever local families need, Santa Claus Inc. gets.

And then some.

“We’re bursting at the seams,” DiCarlo said.

While Santa Claus Inc. serves thousands of area youth each holiday season, the organization’s good work does not conclude when the calendar turns.

The year-round Y.E.S. (Youth Enrichment Services) program provides daily necessities to the neediest children. Since launching the initiative a handful of years ago, Santa Claus Inc. has increased its reach, getting backpacks, school supplies, clothing, underwear and shoes into the hands of nearly 200,000 children annually.

Ginger Ontiveros, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino City Unified School District, lauded the organization for filling “a unique and meaningful role that helps corporations distribute surplus goods to meet community needs.”

The seventh-largest school district in the state, Ontiveros added, “is thankful and honored to be part of the magic they bring to our families.”

Monique Kennamer started volunteering at Santa Claus. Inc. this time last year and instantly fell in love with her surroundings.

“The care and love that goes into everything that goes out of this place is pretty incredible,” she said. “Santa Claus Inc. is full of love.”

A year later, Kennamer now helms the Y.E.S. program, and hopes to one day expand the initiative into the High Desert.

“Here to Barstow and everywhere in between,” Kennamer said.

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