Santa and Mrs. Claus deliver presents to the children at SIUH and RUMC on the MTA’s Santa Express

STATEN ISLAND NY — For the past 30 years, Kids Against Cancer and the MTA have teamed up to help children in need at local Staten Island Hospitals have a great vacation.

On Friday, December 17 at 10 a.m., the MTA’s Santa Express was loaded with gifts, organized by Kids Against Cancer, with Santa at the wheel to deliver the gifts to hospitalized children.

Starting at 40 Yukon Avenue, bus engineers at the Yukon Bus Depot helped Santa load the Santa Express with gifts donated in recent weeks by members of the MTA, their families, schools and many contributing businesses.

Santa’s helpers load the Santa Express to bring toys to the children of SIUH and RUMC on December 17, 2021. (Staten Island Advance/ Katie Kallahan) Katie Kallahan

“The great thing about this is that many different groups come together and help those who are less fortunate,” said Kids Against Cancer president Mark Russo. “It’s been a great partnership with the MTA for the past 30 years.”

The Santa Express bus stopped four times Friday morning before making its final stops at SIUH and RUMC. After the bus was filled with the donations from the toy drive at the Yukon Bus Depot, Santa drove to pick up more donated gifts from Charleston Depot, Castleton Depot and Meredith Depot.

They filled the bus with different kinds of toys for all genders and children in the hospital for the holidays. Santa’s Express Bus was also intended to stop at children’s homes that have just been sent home and are still sick for the holidays.

Santa Express, after the first stop at Yukon Bus Depot, filled with toys for the children at SIUH and RUMC on December 17, 2021. (Staten Island Advance/ Katie Kallahan) Katie Kallahan

“They bring a smile to every child’s face during the holiday season, and it also takes some of the stress out of families,” said Mark Demeno, vice president of Kids Against Cancer. “It’s been a long time since parents haven’t seen their child smile in the hospital. We would like to thank the transit authorities for their support over the years.”

Last year during the pandemic, Santa and Mrs. Santa were unable to deliver the presents to the children; instead they dropped the gifts. This year they are back with their heavily decorated bus.

“I am so pleased with the generosity and outpouring of love from the Amalgamated Transit Union 726; they were fantastic getting this together for the kids, especially at a time when we’ve all had such a rough time,” said Mrs Claus. “We’re so excited to do this again this year, and we’re going to do what the hospitals deem safe for the kids.”

Santa Claus, Mrs Claus and the mechanics of the MTA bus who load the bus with presents. December 17, 2021. (Staten Island Advance/ Katie Kallahan)Katie Kallahan

“It all started thirty years ago when a friend was in hospital over Christmas. He spent the day in pediatrics with the kids,” Demeno said. “He said as he got better they would bring toys to the kids every year, so we teamed up with the MTA, and here we are.”

On Saturday, December 18, from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM, the Santa Express will stop at Applebee’s, 115 Bricktown Way, Staten Island. On behalf of Kids Against Cancer, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will distribute even more gifts to children and families who have breakfast.

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