Sensory Santa event fills 24 hours, business sponsors are still needed

The Zafirau children during their special visit with a sensory Santa last year.

Over 160 people from 32 families will attend Caring Strategies’ first-ever Sensory Santa event next month, and Sandra O’Brien, director of Caring Strategies, said all seats for the event were filled within 24 hours.

“Our goal is to help children with sensory challenges have a joyful Santa experience by creating an environment that makes the child feel safe and secure,” O’Brien said, adding that when the Event will not have loud noises or long waits There will be sensory trained staff and sensory materials to entertain guests.

Caring Strategies is a local non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources for children with and without developmental disabilities and other special needs. The organization serves hundreds of individuals and their families annually and is largely supported by United Way St. Charles.

O’Brien, who has taught for over 40 years, founded the organization years ago with her sister. Caring Strategies works with children aged 0-7 and their parents. Events, training, camps and courses take place throughout the year, and the organization also serves as a resource for parents who have concerns about developing milestones.

“In the spring we will have language classes, feeding classes, a messy play day and a sensory Easter hunt with demonstrations,” she said. “We work with many agencies to provide the most resources to our children in the community.”

She added that Special Olympics has offered a gross motor development kit that Caring Strategies will use at most of their events, and that the organization will host a children’s physical development screening in Spring 2023.

“I don’t feel like it’s a job,” O’Brien said of running the organization. “I feel like a calling. Giving back to the community…it’s just a feeling that maybe I did something right or well. I feel like I could do it 24/7.”

O’Brien said she will be starting a waitlist for the Sensory Santa event.

“We’ve had a lot of feedback and support from the community,” she said. “We continue to get people calling us to volunteer and support us. It’s so heartwarming, but we haven’t gotten any business sponsors yet.”

For more information about Caring Strategies or to contact the organization to become a business sponsor for the Sensory Santa event, visit


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