Students Become Christmas Elves Through Sub for Santa


You wake up Christmas morning not expecting presents, but under your tree, you see Santa came, or maybe just his local elves. Bingham High School’s Sub for Santa program has inspired these Christmas elves for almost 18 years. The long-standing tradition involves Bingham students, teachers, and often past recipients of the charity raising $15,000-20,000 per year to help bring struggling families Christmas. These families may be struggling with different things like health issues, job loss, or a loss of a family member. The program also teams up with a local elementary school and provides an angel tree that displays families who can benefit from donated presents, groceries, and services. 

The goal of the Sub for Santa program is to help families in our community. Each year students get together on a weeknight after school and go to the local Walmart to buy Christmas for as many families as they can afford to. They spend around $400-500 on each family to get the groceries, clothes, toys, and whatever else they may need. Then, they return to the school and wrap all of the gifts. The parents are always aware of what is going on and receive an email if the school can help out. 

Sub for Santa is not the only charity that helps get kids Christmas; many others around the country and within Utah provide similar assistance. According to Marc Jenson, the teacher in charge of the program, “More important than Sub for Santa, more important than True Blue, is the individual desire to share and give.”

In an interview with a Bingham student who received Christmas from the charity in 2019 and asked to remain anonymous, they said, “I didn’t know it would be a thing until Christmas day. I walked out and saw how many [presents] there were and it was nice for my siblings. The school wanted to help out with more than just Christmas. My parents were kind of hesitant.” 

This student has seven siblings and is in the older range of kids, but they said it helped their younger siblings. “It didn’t affect me a lot because I was older, but my younger siblings appreciated it. My family had been without a steady job for about a year. We were getting tight with money, but my parents hid it well. I was stressed since Christmas was coming. They kept getting fired, and Christmas had been getting a lot smaller.” They said they were very grateful that Santa gave their siblings such a great Christmas. They are now very excited to participate in the charity. 

“This year I get to help pass out gifts, and I am so excited to be on the other side of things. It’s kind of like a full-circle moment. We probably would have been fine, and we were quite lucky because our family was helping out, our grandparents let us live in their basement, and cousins gave my father a part-time job until he found a job in his profession.” 

The student continued on about the importance of Sub for Santa, “There are a lot of families that were even worse than mine, I saw how much I appreciated it, and I cannot even imagine how much the others would appreciate it.”