EUGENE, Ore. - After class at Shasta Middle School last Tuesday, a yellow school bus drove children to First Baptist Church in Eugene for a "Campus Life Christmas Party," according to Kimberly McCorduck, a mother of three who tagged along with all three of her daughters in tow.
"My children and I were excited," she recalled.
McCorduck said they sang Christmas songs, played games - and then were told that Santa is not real.
"My daughter, 6, started crying," McCorduck said, "and my other daughter, 10, started to cry. I got up and walked out at that moment feeling upset and angry. I had my husband pick me up. My two youngest started crying even more, asking, 'Why did that man hate Christmas and Santa? And is Santa really not real, mommy?'"
That's when she contacted KVAL News, concerned about what had happened.
The bus wasn't affiliated with Bethel School District, the district said.
First Baptist Church told KVAL News that the event was held at their facility but that they did not organize it.
Youth for Christ, the local chapter of a national organization, said they organized the event. Matt Hogan, the executive director, said it was one of his area directors who said Santa was not real.
He said they were telling the Biblical story of Christmas at a party meant for middle schoolers, not McCorduck's two younger daughters. Hogan said he would call her to apologize.
Hogan noted that Youth for Christ held a photos with Santa event the same evening at a different location.
McCorduck said her girls came away thinking that the man at the Youth for Christ event was lying because they had just seen Santa this week at a Dari Mart in Eugene.