Cypress Santa helps bring toys
Santa Claus can now cheer children year-round.
The Lone Star Santas, Texas-based professional Santas, did just that in their trip to tornado-ravaged Oklahoma City and Joplin in Missouri.
Group members left from Cypress 8 a.m. June 2 to begin their trek, joining with Santas from Dallas and San Antonio with trailers and trucks full of toys for children in Red Cross shelters. They reached Joplin Saturday, after a Friday stop in Oklahoma City.
Their trip, A Caravan of Toys for Joplin Kids, was made possible primarily through donations from area churches and individual contributions gathered over 10 days.
The response to help was incredible according to Jim Fletcher of Cypress, a five-year member of the Lone Star Santas.
Fletcher, 71, said so many toys were gathered at his house that some Boy Scouts had to come to sort them. He said they had pickup trucks, several trailers and a motor home in a convoy to take the trip. They also took food, water and gasoline.
"Some of our guys are hospice-trained and volunteer time to families and children. These children lost everything," Fletcher said. "Children are scared differently than adults are."
Lyla Glaskey, a member of the Immanuel Lutheran Church and Martin Luther School Disaster Response Team in Joplin, Mo., welcomed the Lone Star Santas.
"The children need something happy and carefree to focus on for a while. We hope the toys will bring some smiles to their faces. We want our church and school to be a place where children can come and feel loved, safe and important. We hope the Lone Star Santas will help us to do that," Glaskey said.
Bill French, 64, an Alief resident and a Lone Star Santa, said these "jolly bunch of guys" are ready to deliver the spirit of Christmas.
"Kids empower me and I come alive. It's so rewarding. If we can bring some element of joy and happiness, then we've done our job. It's honestly a calling. We're bowled over with how much we've been given for donations for this trip. It's been phenomenal," said French.
The caravan returned home this week from "a truly worthwhile adventure," French said. "Being caring and loving Santas, we tried to provide a little diversion for them and believe we succeeded with some if not all we served."
In Joplin, Immanuel Lutheran Church is being used as a tornado recovery and relief center for survivors of the tragedy. Visit www.immanueljoplin.com/ to help.
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