747 Sensory-Friendly 'Santa Cares' Events Happening Across the Country This Season

747 Sensory-Friendly 'Santa Cares' Events Happening Across the Country This Season

These events are designed so kids with special needs can meet Santa in a friendly environment.

This year, Autism Speaks and Cherry Hill Programs have partnered to offer 747 sensory-friendly “Santa Cares” events across the country where kids with autism and other sensory-related special needs can enjoy meeting Santa and getting into the holiday spirit. Santa Cares events will be held on Nov. 24, Dec. 1, and Dec. 8, and will feature dimmed lights, lowered music, and early event times so kids can share their Christmas wishes with Santa before other shoppers arrive. 581 shopping destinations will host Santa Cares events. And the most important adaptive feature? Santa himself.

“Most of all, Santa remains flexible, standing behind his chair or kneeling beside a wheelchair to capture unforgettable moments and smiles on camera,” said Ruth Rosenquist, marketing and PR director for Cherry Hill Programs. “We are grateful for our compassionate mall clients that open their doors early to provide the time-honored tradition of a visit with Santa in a more subdued setting.”

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In addition to Santa Cares events, Cherry Hill will be accepting donations for Autism Speaks. Since 2015, Santa Cares (and Bunny Cares!) events have collected $733,318 toward research, advocating for the needs of people with autism, and providing free tool kits that assist with some of the challenges parents can run into. One mother shared her story of attending a Santa Cares event with Cherry Hill.

“As a single parent of a child with autism, it is difficult to provide ordinary opportunities for my daughter. You helped create that opportunity. It was a special moment I will cherish. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing my little girl to experience the magic of Christmas,” she wrote.

Santa Cares events aren’t just for kids–people of all ages are welcome. To find a Santa Cares event in your neighborhood, visit the Autism Speaks website.