I’ve played Santa on several occasions; I have the beard and physique to pull it off. While I enjoyed it, I was somewhat put off by the greed displayed by some of the kids who sat on my lap when I was Santa for a SAFV shelter fundraiser. I was the essential prop for parents’ holiday pictures of their kids. I was also appalled by the number of violent toys requested, especially by the kid who wanted a toy that “Kills better” and charmed by the little girl who wanted a rubber snake to scare her big brother. Working out some issues there. Although I was especially charmed when 25-year-old women sent me a copy of a picture of her on my lap when she was a little girl. I also found some old pictures of me as Santa from the Sitka Daily Sentinel that my mom had saved, and I got after she passed.
This year I was involved in collecting toys for the Salvation Army/Marine Corps League “Toys for Tots” program. We were collecting toys at the two supermarkets and doing “live” broadcasts from both supermarkets on KIFW. While I wore my Santa hat, I made no pretense at being Santa. People could bring toys they had bought elsewhere, or they could buy toys at the supermarkets at a 25% discount and drop them off at our table. They could also buy toys for themselves and their kids at the same discount. The goal is to have two toys and stocking stuffers for each kid in the 111 needy families that registered with the Salvation Army. At the end of the afternoon Major John rolled two shopping carts full of toys to the van. There were two more at AC Lakeside where Chris was broadcasting. The toy collection boxes will be out for another week at locations around Sitka.
One mother brought her two little girls with her and told each one to pick a toy they would like but to buy it, not for themselves, but to put on the table for someone else. One man asked me what he should buy, and I told him to find something he really would have wanted when he was 12. It turned out to be a science toy, for another man it was Legos. One tough old fisherman bought a bagful of barrettes telling me “Little Girls need Barrettes in their stockings Christmas morning.” One couple spent a lot of time looking at toys and picking the two that were “just right” for a kid they didn’t know. These toys were bought with a lot of thought, and love.
Some people gave us money to buy toys. Some of the toy money will be used to fill in the gaps when Major Sabrina puts together the gift bundles in a week and a half, but Major John took advantage of the discount and used some of it to buy things he felt were on his list.
We also rang the bell at the Salvation Army Kettle to get money to restock the Salvation Army food pantry. Last month, before Thanksgiving, I did live broadcasts to promote the food drive. That drive continues. The Army hopes that they will gather enough food to stock the pantry through March as well as giving Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to the 111 families.
The red and white Salvation Army bell has been well used for a long time. It lost its clapper long ago. It was replaced by a jacket zipper pull. That’s the outdoor bell, to ring loud and clear when the kettle is outside, as it was on this cold and clear day.
Since I was not going to be able to take a walk today, I had to stop ringing it several times to take pictures. The indoor bell has the clapper replaced with a paperclip, so it makes a delicate little ting.
While I was ringing the bell a guy in an IWW (International Workers of the world the “One Big Union”) jacket walked by. The IWW was often antagonistic to the Salvation Army. Joe Hill and Ralph Chapman wrote the “Little Red Song Book” which had parodies of hymns played by the Sally Ann (Salvation Army) bands so workers could sing along with the bands but drown out the Salvation Army lyrics. I caught myself singing some, probably inappropriate lyrics to an old hymn while ringing the bell. Thank goodness someone dropped off a toy called Jumpin’ Jive. For the rest of the shift, I was singing that old jump tune. “Hep Hep.” Thanks Cab.