Santa Claus visits Columbia for 'Christmas in July'

The Voluntary Action Center hosted the 22nd annual Christmas in July event at the Missouri United Methodist Church Thursday night.

Santa Claus made an early appearance at the Missouri United Methodist Church Thursday night in Columbia, bearing gifts for children.

The Voluntary Action Center has been hosting "Christmas in July" for 22 years, and this year was another success, with almost 200 people attending the fun-filled event.

Volunteers served a free picnic-style meal for individuals and families and provided kids activities as a part of the annual fundraiser.

VAC Executive Director Nick Foster said the event stresses the importance for needs in the community beyond the holiday season.

"It provides a meal for folks in the summer and a fun event especially for the children. It reminds people that there are needs all throughout the year not just during the holidays. Santa Claus comes in July, and he's needed in July, and he's welcome in July," said Foster.

Funds raised go to next year's Christmas in July and to support the daily assistance VAC provides to the public, including healthcare, education, employment, and housing.

If you would like to donate or learn more about VAC, you can visit