COVID-19 Heroes: Thanks to SFD, Santa Claus is Coming to Town … Virtually
When a prime opportunity came along for the Exchange to spread holiday cheer through visits to Santa Claus, nothing could stand in its way—not even COVID-19.
In July, associates in the Services, Food & Fuel Directorate started working with JingleRing to make virtual visits from Santa a reality for military families.
Families can choose from a list of diverse Santas who speak several languages, including American Sign Language.
Features also include virtual visits from Mrs. Claus, storytime sessions and post-holiday thank-you visits from the Clauses.
“When COVID-19 shut down in-person visits with Santa Claus, SFD looked for a way to maintain this beloved holiday tradition,” Exchange Business Program Specialist Ive Solazayas said. “The team’s hard work and willingness to explore new options show how dedicated the Exchange is to supporting military families around the world.”
July may seem like plenty of lead time, but considering that contract details and language had to be ironed out and then approved across all regions, there wasn’t much time to spare, Solazayas said.
Marketing also came together quickly. Posters were designed and sent to installations, and social media strategies were discussed. The posters were placed in high-traffic areas in stores to increase awareness. Exchanges also were encouraged to promote the virtual visits on their Facebook pages and share them with installation social media outlets.
A link dedicated to JingleRing has been added to the Exchange community Hub XKids page and features activities for children that include downloadable pages for coloring, connect-the-dots, word search and spot-the-difference pictures.
Registration is available at jinglering.com/aafes. From there, families can select their local Exchange and sign up.
“We really are excited, and the timing of virtual visits with Santa couldn’t be better,” said Sabine Wagner, chief of Services and Vending for SFD. “It’s another example of the Exchange bringing holiday traditions and joy to our military families around the globe, even during COVID-19.”