ST. FRANCIS, Minn. (FOX 9) - School buses are usually filled with students, but Saint Francis School District bus drivers are using the district’s yellow buses to help Santa Claus deliver presents.
Bus drivers traded in their bus gear with clothes from the North Pole to help Saint Nick pass out gifts to students and families on the nice list.
"Every year, the schools throughout the district sponsor families within our buildings that need help with putting gifts under the tree," said Joni Bircher, a social worker at Saint Francis Elementary School. "But this year, some of our bus drivers volunteered to sponsor some of the families and then pushed it a step further to deliver some of the gifts on the buses."
The bus, decorated with holiday lights, was a surprise for families who said it’s been a tough year for their children.
"I was thinking maybe one or two people and maybe a hat or something," Sarah Klabunde, a parent of a student said as she wiped tears from her eyes. "The people in this community go above and beyond. To see the love and support from our neighbors […] this is what we need right now."
Bus drivers delivered more than presents. Each delivery came with songs and a basket of candy.
"You don’t understand how greatly appreciative I am," said Angela Nietfeld, a parent. "They deserve it with the pandemic going on. I’m just so thankful."
Saint Francis bus drivers and staff said helping Santa Claus deliver gifts to families in need was the highlight of their Christmas.
"To just picture those kids on Christmas morning having a great Christmas and not looking at an empty tree brings tears to my eyes every time," Bircher added.
2020 marks the first year district bus drivers are delivering gifts to students and their families. They hope to continue the tradition and help more families.