Santa does not enter through the chimney. He enters through the heart.
It was that time of year again. December had come and with it, all the joys of Christmas. We were struggling with what was the real meaning of Christmas. Was it the gifts under the tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, turkey dinners with family and friends, snow in the yard, stockings hanging in the living room, and shouts of "Merry Christmas" to those who pass us in the streets? Was this really Christmas?
In 1993, we decided that we would not buy Christmas presents for each other but would provide presents for a needy child. Through the help of Phil Ferrell, Principal of Coats Elementary School, we adopted a little boy and girl to shop for. We opened no presents on Christmas morning, but were blessed beyond measure knowing the excitement of those two special kids when they saw what “Santa” had brought to their humble little home. We had always shared a passion for children, Jesus Christ, and a desire to serve.
Over the next several years, we continued to reach out to children and seniors, sharing the magic of Christmas through our love of Christ. We continued to be blessed with the love and support of family and friends that shared our passion and wanted to be part of this special ministry. John 15:12 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” God had truly shown us a new way to love each other.
By 1999, we had an army of volunteers and had helped thousands of kids and seniors in Wake, Johnston and Harnett counties. In 2000, we incorporated as a nonprofit organization, “Santa & Friends”. The mission remained the same “to share the magic of Christmas through the love of Christ”. Santa & Friends have visited low income housing communities, schools, churches, hospitals, nursing homes, police departments, fire departments, special needs children and seniors. We have taken toys, food, clothes, and Bibles into these areas. God has consistently blessed us with each encounter.
By 2009, we had realized that Christmas is a “reason” not a “season” and we began to actively serve Christ through our ministry all year. We began visiting local nursing homes and shut-ins. God is continuing to bless our nursing home ministry. Santa & Friends had 800 bunnies donated to this ministry in 2018. Those bunnies were delivered across Wake, Johnston and Harnett Counties to 8 nursing homes. We had an amazing team of 28 volunteers to help us give out bunnies, hugs, and kisses.
Over the past 20 years, Santa has delivered toys, bears, bunnies and food. We are excited that God has blessed us with a vision for a new ministry. Santa will be delivering “memory” babies to Alzheimer’s patients.
Using a baby doll can be a very effective way for a person with Alzheimer's or any kind of dementia to decrease stress and agitation. A caregiver can use doll therapy for dementia patients as a way to put responsibility, caring and structure back into the lives of those afflicted with Alzheimer's. Santa hopes his “memory babies” will bring comfort and pleasure to these special folks.
Psalm 71:9 “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.”
Santa & Friends continues to be actively involved with the Harnett County Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program, Beacon Rescue Mission, Angier and Coats Chambers of Commerce, To Make a Child Smile, Ms. Jane & Friends Gospel Ministries, Apex Police Department, and the Angier Black River Fire Department.
God has truly taught us the true meaning of Christmas. We have learned through the many opportunities He has given us to serve that Christmas means sharing ourselves with others. It means giving to others that need our help. It means promoting and participating in the magic and wonder that children find in Christmas. It is a time of love and generosity that can last all year when Christ lives in your heart.
Santa & Friends invites you to receive the greatest gift ever: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This is the time to invite Jesus into your heart. The joy and peace you will receive will last all year as you look to God for all your needs to be met. Then you too, will realize that Christmas is a “reason” not a “season”.