Photos with Santa to fight hunger in Southwestern Pennsylvania

Downtown Pittsburgh will be sparkling again this holiday season and one of the brightest spots in the city will be Market Square, site of the fourth annual International Holiday Market, sponsored by Peoples Natural Gas and brought to downtown visitors by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. The Holiday Market offers Pittsburghers a festive, memorable European-style market experience, as well as an opportunity to help the less fortunate throughout southwestern Pennsylvania.

Modeled on Germany’s famous Christkindlemarkt Christmas festivals, Pittsburgh’s Holiday Market transforms Market Square into a winter wonderland featuring dozens of vendors offering an array of gifts and collectibles, but one of the most unique offerings, especially with Macy’s Downtown now being closed, will be the opportunity to visit with Santa Claus at his full-sized house and receive a photo with him in exchange for a minimum $5 cash donation to Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Food donations will also be accepted. Food Bank staff and volunteers will be on hand at Santa’s House every day until December 23, collecting donations and sharing holiday cheer. Hours for the house are:

  • Monday-Friday: 12 – 3 p.m. & 4 – 7 p.m.
  • Saturday: 12 – 8 p.m.
  • Sunday: 12 – 6 p.m.

“This is a great opportunity for the Food Bank to raise critical funds to support families in need during the holidays, a time when families face greater challenges imposed by winter,” said Food Bank President & CEO Lisa Scales. “Every five dollar donation made through this effort means that we will be able to provide 25 meals to our community and with the Food Bank seeing an increased need in the winter, those meals will make a significant impact.”

In addition to asking individuals, families and corporate groups to participate by getting a photo with Santa, the Food Bank is asking folks to share their photo on social media tagging the Food Bank at @PghFoodBank and using the hashtag #Santa4Food. The photo with the most “likes” at the end of Holiday Market will win tickets to the organization’s Empty Bowls event in March.

Volunteers Needed

In all, 640 volunteers are needed to support the Food Bank effort.  Volunteers can help collect donations for the Food Bank by committing to fill a three or four hour shift in Market Square. Families, corporate groups, community groups, schools and scout troops, and fraternities and sororities are all welcome. Children as young as 12 years old, accompanied by a parent, can volunteer and learn about the many satisfactions of helping others.

The Food Bank is using Showclix to help volunteers search and register for shifts at the Holiday Market Santa’s House. People interested in finding and registering for a shift that best suits their schedule can visit

Admission to the Holiday Market is free, and there is free parking in downtown garages on the weekends. For more information about the Holiday Market, including the entertainment schedule, visit:

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1980 that distributes more than 23 million meals annually throughout a network of more than 400 partners across 11 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. For more information on hunger in our region or how to get involved, visit