What are the gifts?Christian said every year members of his agency's board of directors are curious when they see the Santa Claus Commission on annual budgets. The commission relies on donations and doesn't cost the agency anything but the time its members devote to acquiring the gifts, he said. This year, the commission spent about $5,500 to buy about 600 duffel bags for juveniles in state custody. The commission used to give a variety of inexpensive gifts but in recent years has chosen to give every youth the same gift to avoid conflicts. Last year's gift was a stationery set.
Christian said he will ask legislators during the upcoming session to consider doing away with the commission, a move that has been considered at least once before. A 1986 vote by the House to do away with the board failed, 61-33. "The time and effort we spend on the Santa Claus Commission would be better spent on scholarships,” Christian said. "If a kid wanted to finish high school or go to college, we could help them out with that instead.”