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Sixty kids were coming to the holiday party, but we only had 40 presents to give. We needed Santa—the real one.
The phone rang as I was pulling my elf hat out of the closet.
Every December my husband, Jerry, and I help the Lions Club deliver presents to the 40 students of a nearby residential school, Green Chimneys, for kids with special needs.
Tomorrow everyone would gather at the local firehouse, and in addition to “Santa” and his “elf,” there’d be a magic show and a buffet lunch. The kids would even get a firehouse tour. I couldn’t wait.
But on the other end of the phone was a distressed volunteer. “Peggy, we’ve got a big problem,” she said. “We just found out there are sixty kids coming this year.”
Sixty! We only had 40 presents to give! We had no more money, and no time to find donations. I looked at Jerry. “We need the real Santa Claus,” I said.
The next day, Jerry and I drove to the firehouse dejected. We parked the same time as another car. The driver got out and walked alongside us to the building.
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There was something impressive in the way he carried himself. He wasn’t a fireman or a volunteer I recognized. Maybe a parent of one of the kids?
We reached the front door and the man looked confused. “Isn’t the vote here today?” he asked me. I knew there was a referendum up for a vote in our town—but it wasn’t being held here.
“Not at this firehouse,” I answered. The man shook his head. “I don’t usually get these things wrong,” he said. “I don’t know how I could have been mistaken.” He looked at Jerry and me. “Why are you here?”
“A Christmas party, for special-needs kids...or at least that was the plan...” I trailed off. He seemed nice, but I was too worried to chitchat. I quickly blurted out our dilemma.
“How many toys do you need?” the man asked. I told him and he took off in his car, promising to be back as soon as he could.
Minutes before the children arrived, the man burst through the door—his arms overflowing with bags of toys.
We needed a Santa Claus. We were sent Maj. Tom Quigley—leader of the local Marine Toys for Tots program, who had plenty of presents on hand to help give every last child an unforgettable Christmas.
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