Barack Obama Surprises Chicago Students With Holiday Gifts


by Paulina Isaac

December 17, 2023

President Barack Obama? More like Santa Claus!

Obama stopped by the elementary school, Parkside Community Academy, in Chicago’s south side for holiday surprises, including gifts and a story. The former president introduced himself as “Skinny Santa” to the kids. The school is in the same neighborhood where the Obama Presidential Center will be.

“I could not have had more fun spreading a little Christmas cheer and getting some back from these 3 and 4-year-olds,” Obama said. “Especially when I started to read to them about Santa. This season is about giving, whether it’s checking in on a neighbor, volunteering for a food drive or a present drive, being part of this broader community where we are all counting on each other — that’s what the spirit of these holidays are about.”


During his visit, Obama read Derrick Barnes’ new book “Santa’s Gotta Go.” The book tells the story of what happens when Santa Claus becomes a houseguest. According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Obama brought toys to the classroom of 20 pre-k students, and every student in the school got winter accessories from “Skinny Santa.”

“For him to take the time to come here out of his busy schedule to read a book, it just shows that he is still a leader,” Debra Gardner, a teacher at Parkside, told the Sun-Times.


The Obama Presidential Center will open in 2025.

(Cover photo: Personal Office of President Obama/The Washington Post)

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