Santa Community Project

Tyne Shillingford and her mother, Charlotte Shillingford, will hand out books this month at Greenwood Cultural Center as part of the Santa Community Project. In 1989, Tyne was one of the first children to benefit from the outreach.

The Santa Community Project was created to bring Christmas spirit to north Tulsa with the help of the season’s favorite duo: Mr. and Mrs. Claus. This year, the event celebrates its 30th year of promoting literacy, education and inclusion for all.

Founded by Brenda Lloyd-Jones and aided by Charlotte Shillingford of the nonprofit Mothers Group Inc., the Project was prompted by Mr. and Mrs. Claus’ absence in the north Tulsa area. Lloyd-Jones says she saw an opportunity to not only bridge the gap between families and the Clauses, but also to develop a new experience surrounding this well-known tradition.

Tyne Shillingford, daughter of Charlotte and Project volunteer, was among the first group of spirited children to experience the inaugural event at the Rudisill Regional Library in 1989. “I think in retrospect, the most exciting thing was that Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus looked like me,” Tyne says. “They were African American, and you hardly ever see that in popular media.”

In addition to providing a Meet-the-Clauses experience, the event also offers entertainment; a free photo print with the Christmas couple; a new, age-appropriate book; and an opportunity to apply for a Tulsa City-County Library card.

Over three decades, Lloyd-Jones has observed the Santa Community Project’s expansion of attendees and engagement. This year’s event will feature entertainment provided by Tulsa Youth Ballet, Booker T. Washington High School Select Choir, Apollo’s Martial Arts, and several more organizations and clubs.

When asked how community members can help, Tyne encourages anyone and everyone to attend the event. “You’ll see how wonderful it is — that’s probably the best way,” Tyne says. “It is completely free. Who can say that about a lot of things, especially around the holidays?” 

Dec. 7 — The Santa Community Project

9 a.m.-noon. Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N. Greenwood Ave. Free and open to the public. For more information or to donate new books, go to themothersgroup.org. Cash donations to purchase books can be mailed to P.O. Box 702915, Tulsa, OK, 74170-2915.

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