OAW’s 6th Year Providing Free Santa Pictures to Springfield Recipients

The tradition started back in 2018, on a tree farm in Rogersville. Since that time, the On Angels’ Wings holiday pictures provided to Springfield, Missouri recipients have morphed, even including multiple session options for a couple of years (think “Grooge” and the “Ice Princesses”). Over time, Santa was the most popular and lasting choice. 

This year was the first time that OAW offered the Santa sessions only to recipient families over a 3-day weekend. In previous years, recipients were only offered one day for pictures, and a second day was used for community available mini sessions as a fundraiser.

“What we’ve discovered over the past couple of years is that many of our recipients were being left out in favor of a fundraiser that only covered the costs of the event,” said Michelle Cramer, OAW founder and executive director. “We decided that we’d rather provide the opportunity for pictures with Santa to as many recipient families as possible, so everyone that wanted them had the opportunity.”

Thankfully, Phoenix Home Care stepped in to sponsor the organization’s holiday mini sessions (including the organization’s first NICU Halloween sessions, and Santa minis for St. Louis recipients), offsetting the costs of the event so that the fundraiser portion would no longer be necessary.

“We recognize that there are families in our community that have been participating in our Santa mini fundraiser for most of the five years, and we are so grateful for their support,” Cramer said. “But when the opportunity arose to serve more recipient families, we had to take it!”

Stewart Collins, or Santa S.C. as he’s affectionately called, has been the Springfield OAW Santa for the last three years, stepping in to help when the organization’s original Santa, Jeff Germann, passed unexpectedly in 2020. Collins drives from three hours away and spends the weekend with family friends in order to provide OAW families with special holiday memories.

“I have to admit before the first ever photography session [in 2020], I was a little anxious,” said Santa S.C. “What am I gonna see? what have I walked into? Well, I see photographers, helpers, board members of the organization. I see people who love what they are doing. I am humbled at what they do. I try to engage with parents and kids, try to get a smile. After three years, some of the kids are familiar; it’s been fun to see the growth. I have lots of opportunities to pray for the kids, parents and caregivers when you see the struggles. I get to meet many Heros big and little. I’m blessed to be able to sit taking pictures with them.”

Since the pictures were over a three-day timeline, several photographers helped to make the event a success.

“Christmas can be a magical time of year, but it can also bring up a lot of grief,” recognizes Becky Nelson, owner of Nelson Creative Co 417. “Volunteering to help with OAW’s Santa Minis meant knowing that I was holding space for families to safely express both the joy of the season along with the sorrow that can often accompany it. They didn’t have to explain their situation to still have their child’s memory honored. And for our immune-compromised kiddos, the parents didn’t have to worry about big crowds and tons of additional germs. Santa even swapped out his gloves for those kids, and you could see the relief on each parent’s face because they didn’t even have to ask. It was an honor to bring some Christmas spirit to these families!”

“Everything OAW touches is so special to me – including the Santa minis,” said Kayce Newsom, owner of Red Barn Boudoir + Passion Portraits. “I am so thankful to have a hand in creating a keepsake for OAW families during a season that brings about joy but also raw heartache. OAW Santa is a gem and throughout the hours spent with him I was awed by his true Santa spirit. My own daughter attended the event with me and was also quickly won over by his gentle heart!”


“There are those who believe if you do good deeds, you will be rewarded,” says Shannon Alexander, owner of Shannon Alexander Photography. “And, there are those who just do good for the sake of doing good. Because there’s a need. Because it’s the right thing to do. I’m awfully fortunate to be able to take part in anything OAW does. The Christmas minis were no different. Seeing these families so appreciative and joyful really brings perspective to the stories they could tell. And, how they came to be at the OAW studio in front of my camera.  Be kind. Everyone has a story.”

Most importantly, the OAW recipient families thoroughly enjoy and look forward to Santa pictures each year. Here’s what they had to say about the event:

“One of the big reasons we choose to sign up for Santa Minis is so my medically-fragile son can meet Santa in a safe environment without all the noise, people and wait times. The Santa that participates in these minis is by far the best! Thank you Phoenix Home Care for sponsoring this year’s event! You already support our son throughout the week with staff and we appreciate your support through this photo opportunity as well.”

Jessie Masterson

“We’ve never had professional photos with Santa and our angel was included as one of our children without judgement. Santa even welcomed our framed photo as if it were another child in his lap. I couldn’t be more excited than to share those photos with our family this holiday season!”

Ashley Burney

“Santa pictures were my first chance to see my baby as a healthy little guy, outside of the NICU, doing things that feel normal! Seeing Santa is so special during the holidays and when you spend a lot of time in the hospital, it’s easy to [miss out on] special things like that with your kids. We love our Santa pictures!”

Mya Berry

They gave my family a safe, non-judgmental way to include my angel babies in our Christmas pictures. On Angels’ Wings encourages it. They are a forever staple of our past merging with our future thru the years.”

Amber Weeks

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