By Kierra Pixler, Managing Editor
When you think of Santa, Mrs. Claus and their trusty team of elves, you immediately think of Christmastime. Well, that isn’t the case with Lone Star Santas Convoy of Toys® Disaster Relief for Children. They serve children and families year round that are directly affected by disaster. They help to bring back the hope and joy that often seems to dissipate when disaster strikes. The nonprofit organization first distributed over 3,500 toys in June of 2011 to Joplin, MO when it was hit hard by a deadly F5 tornado and continue to travel all around Texas to be in assistance when needed.
The group has been kept very busy due to the April 29 tornado outbreak. Children from four East Texas towns in three counties have been visited by Santas, Mrs. Santas and Elves from all over the state. Three Convoys of Toys, one to Emory, Texas and Fruitvale, Texas on June 10; one to Eustace, Texas on June 22; and then one to Martin’s Mill Texas.on June 24, (just six months from Christmas) have recent been completed.
This year, they are attending the Freedom Fest Breakfast which will be held at First United Methodist Church on the morning of July 4. Santa Ted Duffield of Belton brought the event to the attention of the organization and they are all looking forward to meeting and talking with residents from all around. They will also be bringing the Love, Hope, Joy and Toys to the Belton area that Monday morning by doing some community service at six different locations.
“Ultimately, Lone Star Santas are dedicated to the joy of being Santa and believe no one better than Santa Claus can help and serve children of disasters better; by giving them a familiar image who will listen to their perspective without judgment, offer a warm hug and gentle interaction, and of course a toy that maybe replaces one that they have lost,” said Doug Portwood, Director of Convoy of Toys. “Lone Star Santas have recognized when we bring the Love, Hope, Joy and Toys and give them that big Santa Hug, the children begin to smile again and that smile brings a smile back to their parents too. By bringing a sense of hope and love back to the children affected in a disaster it also restores a sense of hope back to parents, families and the entire community as well. Lone Star Santas are not first responders, we are second responders who bring some joy and happiness when it might be needed the most.”
“Lone Star Santas feel it is important to involve our organization with communities, after all it is the people in these communities who support our mission to bring Love, Hope, Joy and Toys to children and families affected by disasters. It is a small way to keep the true spirit of Christmas burning in the hearts of all who care and give,” said Portwood.
This is the first year that they will be participating in our Annual 4 of July Parade. Around thirty to forty Santas, Mrs. Clauses, Elves and helpers will be spreading cheer to the already widely anticipated event. Sonny Wooley graciously donated a brand new trailer for the Santas to use during the parade.
“Mr. Wooley heard about Lone Star Santas Convoy of Toys from Santa Ted Duffield; Santa Ted asked Mr. Wooley if he had a used trailer that Lone Star Santas could purchase (at a reduced price). After a lengthy conversation with Santa Ted about the mission of Lone Star Santas and the tens of thousands of children we bring Love, Hope, Joy and Toys to, Mr. Wooley decided that he liked what he heard and wanted to support and contribute to this mission and gave (donated) a brand new trailer to Lone Star Santas Charities, Inc. Our Santa hats are off to Sonny Wooley for his big heart and his Santa spirit! We have been using the trailer he donated recently on our sixteenth and seventeenth Convoy of Toys to Eustace, Texas and Martin’s Mill, Texas. You will see the new trailer (the one with the elves on the front) at your 4 of July celebration there in Belton,” said Portwood.
For your Santa needs or to donate to this cause, feel free to visit their website at www.lonestarsantas.org