Opinions & Features Workshop (Oct 26th)

Illustration by Megan Koch

Celebrate with Santa partners with Olympic Oval for the first time

By Julieanne Acosta, December 20 2021—

Celebrate with Santa is a long-standing tradition for U of C alumni and their families, having run for more than a decade. This event had traditionally booked the Olympic Oval for people to skate with Santa and provided additional activities for kids to do. Due to the current circumstances of COVID-19, the event has had to change the way it used to run. 

The Gauntlet had the opportunity to talk with Colleen Bangs, Senior Director of Alumni Engagement, to discuss the event.

“As a result of COVID-19, we’ve pivoted to kind of an online version, while we’re in this holding pattern until we can get back to the Olympic Oval, actually skating with Santa,” said Bangs. 

Bangs explained that in the past, Celebrate with Santa was a light-hearted way to bring alumni back and engage them again with the campus community, while supporting the Students’ Union (SU) Food Bank. 

“It’s a really feel-good celebration and we’ve been really intentional about supporting the SU Food Bank in the past,” said Bangs. “So even though we’re not getting there in person, we are still promoting it. When we survey our alumni, they consistently say the thing that they want to do the most, if they’re to re-engage with the U of C, is to help students.” 

This year, Celebrate with Santa is partnering with the Olympic Oval for the first time. Students and alumni who would like to donate will be asked if they want to donate to the SU Food Bank or the Olympic Oval athlete bursary. 

“We’ve split our initiative a little bit this year,” said Bangs. “The Olympic Oval athlete bursary is for high-performing athletes to help them with the different struggles that they might experience in being a high-performing athlete and also a full-time student.” 

Celebrate with Santa is aiming to raise $10,000 to help food insecurity on campus and to support U of C athletes. For the first 300 donors to the SU Food Bank initiative, a special holiday package will be given that includes admission and skate rental at the Olympic Oval, and a $10 discount code for U of C alumni-owned businesses such as Calgary Heritage Roasting Company and Milk Jar Candle Co.

“This way we can support students and support small businesses that our alumni built as well,” said Bangs. “We have a generous partner that is matching. There’s a $5,000 match for both donations to the SU Food Bank and to the student-athlete bursary.” 

Donations to either the Campus Food Bank or the Athlete Bursary will be accepted until Dec. 21 and can be done here


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