NEW YORK (AP) — Santa Claus ISN’T coming to town.
The group that puts on the city’s annual Sidewalk Santa Parade said its last bell has been jingled.
Volunteers of America-Greater New York said the parade and its Sidewalk Santa fundraising efforts have been retired and it’s using other ways, such as online giving and money from private donors, to raise funds for its Hope and Hearth food voucher program.
“It was just not the most effective way to raise money,” vice president Rachel Weinstein said Monday.
The parade traditionally took place the Friday after Thanksgiving, with the Santa-costumed participants marching up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. The program also had Santas staff locations on city streets to try to get donations from people passing by their locations. The organization has had a Sidewalk Santa program since the early part of the 20th century.
But recruiting workers willing to stand outside in the cold for several hours has become increasingly difficult, Weinstein said, and the resources used on the program didn’t bring enough of a return.
“We know we have to do as much as we can with the money that we have,” she said.
So after discussing it over the past year, the organization decided it was time to call a halt to the program, Weinstein said.
The group is trying to expand the food voucher program, which gives homeless and limited-income families food vouchers that can be used in grocery stores, she said.
“We’re going to be able to give more people more food vouchers than we ever have this year,” she said.