Santa visits Salina Elementary

Photo by Bob Oliver
Santa talks with fourth-grade students as he hands out toys at Salina Elementary School Thursday. Santa, who was joined by ACCESS employees and several volunteers, delivered holiday gifts to all of the approximately 900 students at the school throughout the day.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Santa visited the city six days early this year, but the children at Salina Elementary School didn’t seem to mind the change in schedule.

Class after class of students ranging from preschool to fourth grade lined the floor of the multi-purpose room Thursday waiting for a chance to sing, meet Santa and especially receive a toy and bag of goodies from ACCESS workers and volunteers.

The Salina Holiday Celebration, which has taken place at the school every year during the last 40 years, is part of ACCESS’s effort to make sure that every child gets a gift for the holidays.

“This is a celebration of any holiday or even a birthday,” ACCESS Director of Social Services and Special Projects Brigitte Fawaz-Anouti said. “We want to make sure that every child here receives a gift for the holidays.”

Fawaz-Anouti said the event was important to her because many years ago she was one of the students waiting in line to meet Santa.

“I can still remember how exciting it was being 7 or 8 years old and waiting to meet Santa and get a gift,” Fawaz-Anouti said. “This is a very special event for me.”

ACCESS Senior Director Adnan Hammad also attended the event and said that it was exciting to see the reaction from the students.

“This is a working class area in the city and these children just light up when they see Santa,” Hammad said. “They really appreciate this, especially around the holidays.”

Hammad said approximately 900 received gifts during the event.

“This is very important because for some children, this will be their only visit from Santa this year,” Hammad said.

Salina Principal Sue Stanley said the event was something that students had been looking forward to.

“This is so special for the students,” Stanley said. “I had a student come up to me this morning and ask me to feel her heart because it was beating so fast out of excitement.”

Comerica Bank Vice President of Corporate Contributions Janice Tessier helped hand out gifts and brought several volunteers to help with the event.

Tessier said Comerica has been sponsoring the event along with ACCESS for the past 14 years.

“It’s such a worthwhile cause,” Tessier said. “It’s really heart-warming to interact with the students and hear and see their reactions to meeting Santa. It’s really an event that many people look forward to every year.”

(Bob Oliver can be reached at