'Dear Santa': Docu-series features Chicago area nursing students fulfilling holiday wishes

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Friday, December 9, 2022
Docu-series features local nursing students fulfilling holiday wishes
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The nurses from Ambria College in Hoffman Estates who fulfill Operation Santa holiday wishes are featured in "Dear Santa," a new Hulu docu-series.

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (WLS) -- For a second year, some local nursing students are donating their time and energy to making the holidays brighter for kids.

The nursing school faculty call themselves "anonymous elves" because they're wrapping up joy for families to open on Christmas.

"We are nurses," Sharon Ortega said. "The spirit of giving is embedded in us."

The nurses from Ambria College in Hoffman Estates have been involved in Operation Santa for the last couple of years. The program was started by the United States Postal Service 110 years ago.

Janice Hall has run the program in Chicago and says it's a huge responsibility working for the big guy!

"We have tissue in the back because we're crying as we read the letters," she said.

READ MORE | Dear Santa: Wishes fulfilled across the US

The post office gets thousands of letters to Santa every year from all over the country and the anonymous elves from different organizations help grant many of those wishes. Ambria staff goes through some of the letters to determine who they can help.

"There are tears when we sit and read the letters," Ortega said. "I would love to adopt as many as I could, but it's not possible."

Two years ago the staff adopted a family in North Carolina, a single mom of two children who was also a nurse during the height of the pandemic. They never met the family, but are able to see them now thanks to the new series "Dear Santa."

It's a labor of love for the students and staff at the college, but it's not without its own stress. In fact, crunch time for Operation Santa comes at the same time as finals week for the school.

Those nurses are featured in an episode of the "Dear Santa" docu-series that will air on ABC7 this Sunday, Dec. 11 at 4:30 p.m. You can also stream all episodes of "Dear Santa" right now on Hulu. The "Dear Santa" documentary is available on Hulu now.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of Hulu and this ABC station.