Special Santa

Hillside Special Santa

Be a Special Santa This Year!

Special Santa, Hillside’s annual holiday giving project, is a true community collaboration that unites dozens of generous area businesses, thousands of compassionate individual donors and every Hillside staff member.

Working together last year, Special Santa provided more than 12,000 toys and gifts for nearly 4,500 young people and families served by Hillside throughout Western and Central New York, and in Prince George's County, Maryland. Help us do it again this holiday season!

How it Works

  • When you’re doing your holiday shopping this season, pick up a few extra new and unwrapped gifts for Hillside kids in need.
  • Drop them in one of hundreds of donation boxes at Special Santa Community Partner locations in Western and Central New York, or at one of our Special Santa HQ sites(see below).
  • Hillside does the rest! With help from staff and community volunteers, we match donated gifts with the wish lists of thousands of youth and make their holidays brighter.

Support Special Santa

Your financial gift can help
make this important project
an even greater success!
Donate Today

Community Partners

Every year, the amazing businesses and organizations of our regions support Special Santa by displaying Wish Tags and donation boxes in their community locations. Find one near you!

Most Requested Gifts

Thousands of wish tags with specific gift requests will be displayed at our Community Partner locations in November and December, but if you want to beat the rush, you can’t go wrong with any of these most frequently requested gift types:

  • Action Figures
  • Art & Craft Supplies (sketch books, paint sets, etc.)
  • AXE Body Wash and 3-in-1 (teenage boys)
  • Barbie and Baby Dolls (all ethnicities, Barbie Career dolls, etc.)
  • Bath and Body Kits, Lotion, Cologne and Toiletries (all genders)
  • Board Games, Card Games and Puzzles (all ages)
  • Books and Activity Books (all ages)
  • Building Sets and Science Sets
  • Duffle Bags, Drawstring Bags, Backpacks and Purses
  • Educational Toys (young children)
  • Fishing Poles and Tackle
  • Fleece Blankets and Pillow Pets
  • Hair Supplies (accessories and appliances)
  • Headphones (over-ear and ear bud style – under $25)
  • Hoodies and Zip-up Sweatshirts (all sizes and genders)
  • Infant and Toddler Toys
  • Jewelry and Watches
  • Lego Sets (all ages)
  • Makeup, Nail Polish and Lip Gloss
  • Model Cars, Helicopters and Airplanes
  • Remote Control Cars/Trucks
  • Soccer Balls, Footballs or Basketballs
  • Socks and Undershirts (all sizes and genders)
  • Wallets
  • Winter Outerwear (all sizes and genders)

Important 2019 Dates

  • Monday, October 7: Program Opening Day!
  • Early-to-mid November: Wish tags are displayed at our Community Partners throughout Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse
  • Friday, November 29: “Black Friday” – don’t forget to shop for Hillside kids!
  • Saturday, November 30: Holiday Open House at Special Santa Rochester HQ, 10am – 2pm
  • Friday, December 13: Donation deadlines for all regions
  • Tuesday, December 24: Special Santa closes for the season … but the smiles are only beginning for our youth!


Contact us any time this season!

  • General Inquiries: ssanta@hillside.com
  • Rochester/Monroe Region
    Summer Jensen, Coordinator
    410 Atlantic Avenue, Rochester, NY 14609
    (585) 256-7630
    HQ Hours
  • Syracuse/Central New York Region
    Erin Walsh, Coordinator
    215 Wyoming Street, Syracuse, NY 13204
    (315) 396-6938
    HQ Hours: M-F, 9am-4pm
  • Buffalo/Western New York Region
    Melanie Enders, Coordinator
    66 Stevens Street, Lockport, NY  14094
    (716) 462-8922
    HQ Hours: Varied – Call Ahead