Donate to Santa’s Sleigh Fund to help NAU employees in need year-round

Santa's Sleigh Logo

January 7, 2019

A single mom was in a car accident that totaled her car and broke her leg. With no transportation, she had to get Mountain Dell to north campus, a nine-minute drive but an hour commute by foot. Shortly after, her fridge went out and the lights in her house stopped working. She put all her food in boxes outside, hoping the winter weather would keep it cold.

Luckily for her, Northern Arizona University offers the Santa’s Sleigh Fund for their employees in need.

The Santa’s Sleigh Fund hired an electrician to fix the lighting in her house, hired a mechanic to fix her car, bought her a new fridge and a Christmas tree and provided her with money to buy Christmas presents for her kids.

The fund has helped dozens of employees in need for almost 25 years, doling out more than $48,000 to full-time employees with a one-time monetary boost when they are dealing with financial hardship or personal tragedies.

During the holidays, the most common request is from single parents who can’t afford gifts or a holiday meal for their children. Though the name belies it, people still donate and receive help throughout the year; the most common requests include help paying for doctor bills, cancer treatments, braces for their children and rent.

For one single mom, her son was in a car accident in Tucson, but she had no way to get to him. The program provided her with enough money to rent a car and stay at a hotel so she could visit him.

A lot of employees in need don’t know about this program, which is why coworkers often nominate them. People who nominate others are given the option of presenting them with an envelope with the money inside; most don’t, however, wanting to be anonymous.

Instead, Don Dufek, program coordinator for fleet services and administrator of the program, puts the money in a card and delivers it to the person. Their reaction? Dufek says everyone looks at him with tears in their eyes and are always surprised.

To help provide care for NAU employees, donate through the NAU Foundation, located on the third floor of Old Main. They accept cash, checks and offer payroll deductions. People can also donate at Fleet Services to Dufek.

To make a one-time or recurring gift to the fund, visit Giving at NAU. Employees from any NAU unit may also give using payroll deduction for an ongoing or onetime gift. To set up payroll deduction:

  • Log into LOUIE.
  • Under Payroll and Compensation, click Annual Fund Contributions.
  • Click Manage NAU Annual Fund
  • Click New or Modify
  • Click to search funds and enter 4936 or search for Santa Sleigh
  • Select the amount you wish to give per paycheck and the duration of your pledge, then click Give.

To nominate someone or for questions, contact Dufek at


Tallie Valverde