By Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A drive-thru breakfast with Santa went off without a hitch at the Merritt Civic Centre on Dec. 12.

“First of all I want to thank everybody that came out and supported us… the funds that were raised go to the Nicola Valley Rodeo Association, and like everybody else we need to be able to pay our monthly bills,” said Jacqueline Whitecross of the Nicola Valley Rodeo Association.

“How it came about is Felicity, who is the program coordinator for the Merritt Civic Centre, she called me up because she wasn’t able to have anything for the children at the Civic Centre. So, she asked if I could pull together the drive-thru with Santa because I had touched on it before.”

Whitecross held a few meetings and gathered together a team of volunteers to put on the event. Volunteers included Rita Robinson, Lis Ladyman, Daphne Spencer, Peter Spencer, Maryann Caldwell, Brenda Bent, Homer Hilton, Sue Kerr and Lea Mack as Santa.

People came to the drive-thru to pick up a breakfast or brunch burrito, a fruit cup and juice or coffee.

Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand with their elves to help serve the meals, as well as providing gift bags to children. COVID-safe photos were taken with the beloved couple of the North Pole, each wearing masks.

“I think, and I felt very strongly, as did Felicity, that the drive-thru worked out extremely well,” said Whitecross.

“We had Santa and Mrs. Claus… I asked them to talk to the kids about COVID, about having to wear a mask and what’s safe, and the parents really appreciated that.”

Attendees who gave their name and phone number have also been entered into a draw for one of four prizes, with the winners to be announced on Thursday. There is a $150 gift certificate towards a stay at Corbett Lake Lodge, a $100 Save-On Foods gift card and two $25 Save-On Foods gift cards. 

Whitecross said the event couldn’t have gone ahead without the volunteers, and that she is thankful for the effort they put in.

“People worked very hard and I want to say a special thank you to the people I managed to pull together to do the work behind the scenes,” said Whitecross.

Several volunteers arrived at 7 a.m. to do the food prep and didn’t leave until well after noon when the clean-up concluded.

Whitecross noted that just under $700 was raised for the Rodeo Association through the event.

“We were pleased, it was nice for us that Felicity offered to give us the funds from it, but it was more about the kids,” said Whitecross.

“If we’d made $300, we still would have been thrilled because seeing the children’s faces was so nice. The main thing, the main reason when Felicity asked me, was because it was for the children. I think that’s really important because there’s nothing going on (because of COVID) and it’s really sad.”