LTlov’s Green Santa program is winding down for this holiday season but we are still in need of gifts, gift cards to Target for teens and gift cards to HEB for family holiday dinners. You can donate a gift through our Amazon Wish List or you donate through our VENMO and we’ll do the shopping where it is most needed.
Our Green Santa Program turns 30 this year and below is the incredible story of how it got it’s start and evolved.
History of Green Santa
Green Santa’s history dates back to 1992, when Santa delivered toys to 7 Lake Travis district families from the green fire truck of the Hudson Bend Volunteer Fire Department (HBVFD). In the 30 years since its inception, Green Santa has
grown to serving over 230 families and close to 700 children.
In the early years, it was difficult for the fire truck to maneuver the many small streets in the area, but the families appreciated the effort and one family in particular would greet the truck with tamales.
History of the Hudson Bend Volunteer Fire Department
The HBVFD was formed in 1964 by the men and women of Hudson Bend after a series of wildfires plagued the community. The U.S Forest Service donated a green fire truck and fire equipment to protect the 140 square mile area from
Comanche Trail to Texas 71 and west beyond Hamilton Pool Road.
In the 1970’s, the Lakeway Fire Department was integrated into the Hudson Bend Fire Department. The department’s one fatality occurred in 1978, when Chief Richard Willis perished fighting a grass fire off RM 620. His wife, Elinor Willis,
succeeded him and became the first female fire chief. As the community grew, Elinor provided funding to build two more fire stations within the district.
In 1996, the fire department transitioned from volunteer staffed to paid firefighters and Bobby Abbott was hired as Fire Chief. They purchased a 1946 pumper that was capable of hauling 400-500 gallons of water, but that needed painting, tires (which were later donated) and a complete overhaul.
History of the Ladies Auxiliary – the driving force behind Green Santa’s origin
The Ladies Auxiliary was formed in September 1969 and was the driving force behind raising money for the volunteer fire department. They started with 47 members and raised $1,049 at their first spaghetti dinner and dance. They were
also known for performing good deeds in the community and were responsible for collecting the toys for Green Santa. The auxiliary volunteers hosted coat, food and toy drives, as well as garage sales, fish fries, dance contests and more.
They served as a de facto social committee for the community and formed the “Bucket Brigades” to bring food and energy drinks to the firefighters working the fires.
Since day one, the Ladies Auxiliary and Green Santa brought the community together. Donors always knew that everything collected stayed in the community. To this day, Green Santa is 100% volunteer and all donations go to those in need within the community and the school district.
Green Santa grew as it partnered with Lakeway Sing Along, Water District 17, Lake Travis ISD, the Girls and Boys Scout troops and individual community members who just wanted to donate bags of toys. As Green Santa grew, it
became necessary to secure a donated building space each holiday season to successfully execute the program.
The Ladies Auxiliary’s last Green Santa food and toy drive was in 2010. They disbanded after more than 40 years of volunteering and supporting the fire department and the community. As President Jeanne Jarvis said, it was time for the aging volunteers to “pass the torch” to other local non-profits with younger, more energetic members. The hope was their dedication to the community would not be forgotten. The Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce recognized Jarvis as a citizen of the year in 2005 and the Ladies Auxiliary as a Shining Star in 2007.
Enter LTlov – the force behind Green Santa for 8 years
The Emmaus Catholic Church initially took over Green Santa from the Ladies Auxiliary. However, in 2014 Green Santa was passed to LTlov, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that is 100% volunteer. LTlov has continued the tradition of the Ladies Auxiliary and their volunteer philosophy of giving back because you want to – not to get your name out there. To this day, 100% of donations are given back to the community.
Green Santa continues to provide toys and gifts to children who are up to 18 years of age and who are living at or below the poverty level. The program also continues to provide their families with holiday meals by giving them HEB gift
Green Santa continues to be only possible because of the amazing community and local business support. Numerous local businesses, all of the LTISD schools, Lake Travis Community Library, and the Lakeway Police Station act as collection
locations for the new, unwrapped toys we distribute. Lakeway Activity Center and Lakeway Sing Along host an annual Family Christmas Show and the Oaks of Lakeway hosts a holiday event, all which encourage bringing a new, unwrapped toy as admission. Green Santa collection boxes can be found at local businesses for the month of November. Monetary donations can also be made at these collection locations or on the LTlov website (ltlov.org)
Several local business sponsors provide generous monetary donations. HEB provides gift cards and collects batteries. Ladies of Charity provides HEB gift cards. Primrose School of Lakeway is providing space for our 2022 Green Santa HQ. Point of Origin hosts an annual Green Santa sales day. Don Peterson at Western Industries Corporation donates all of the collection and packing boxes. Every Green Santa donation is used 100% for toys and gift cards for the local
families in need.
Applications are available at the local schools, at Lake Travis Crisis Ministry and on the LTlov website (ltlov.org)
At the beginning of December, LTlov volunteers pick up the toys and deliver them to Green Santa HQ where they are sorted and placed in family boxes customized in accordance with the information provided by on the applications.