Christmas Bureau of Austin nowhere to be found


by MELISSA MAHADEO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN FISHER

Posted on November 27, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 27 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- For organizations helping the needy this holiday season, time is of the essence. For the organization Blue Santa, time is running out.

Every year, Blue Santa and the local non-profit the Christmas Bureau of Austin team up for the holidays. Needy families fill out applications, and they split the work load, but this year the Christmas Bureau never sent out the applications.

“We waited until the last minute, and then we took it upon ourselves to find a sponsor to print those applications up,” Joe Munoz with Blue Santa said. “For the last 20 years we have depended on them, and they on us.”

Blue Santa helps about 15,000 individuals every Christmas. The Bureau provides to smaller families and the elderly. Munoz said the Christmas Bureau helps about 6,000 individuals every holiday.

However this year, other than one email sent two weeks ago, Munoz said the organizations haven’t spoken. In the email, the director said he was out of the country for a funeral and would return soon. The organization hasn’t responded to Blue Santa since then.

“We are in a huge disadvantage right now,” Munoz said. “We are way behind.”

According to their website, the Christmas Bureau is located off of Burleson Road behind the Catfish Parlor. KVUE went to the address, but couldn’t find them there.

Their phone number is also disconnected. The Christmas Bureau’s website said they will open Monday Dec. 5, but that was last year's date. This year Dec. 5 falls on a Wednesday. However on the website, individuals can still make donations. Munoz is concerned about where the donations are going.

“We have a lot of questions, a lot of questions,” he said about the Christmas Bureau. “They are still accepting donations according their website but, number one, where are those donations going? And number two, where are they? We needed them 14 days ago.”

Blue Santa has no time to wait and find out. Munoz said they're moving on without them. They will hold a meeting Wednesday and a press conference on Thursday to announce their plan to help the additional families in need this holiday season. In the meantime, they hope no one else is donating to the Christmas Bureau as they do not know where the money is going.

“Our money is accounted for, and fiscally we are sound,” he said.

This Saturday Dec. 1, Chuy's will host a parade with Blue Santa to raise funds and donations. Donations can also be made at any fire station in the Austin-Travis County area until they deliver presents on Dec. 15.

Click here for more information about Blue Santa.

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