Eighty-year-old Jim Annis spends most of his days carving wood to make toys. And every year for the past fifty years, he has been donning Santa’s costume to hand out these toys to children who can’t afford gifts. Annis donates around 300 toys yearly to the Salvation Army of Sanford during the holiday season.
“When the Salvation Army gives out food and clothes to people in this area, I give out my toys,” said Annis.
Every year, as the holidays approach, families around the world gather together to celebrate with festive decorations, feasts of all flavors, and gift giving. What’s easy to forget during these exciting times is the fact that there are many families around the world that are struggling just to put food on the table. For many families, simple survival takes all of their resources, and celebrating Christmas is a luxury.
The number of children set to be homeless this Christmas is the highest in 12 years, with 135,000 youngsters currently without a home or living in temporary accommodation, new figures show. An analysis of data by charity Shelter shows that a child currently becomes homeless every eight minutes, meaning 4,026 children are set to lose their homes between now and Christmas day.
Jim Annis has seen his fair share of poverty in his childhood and doesn’t want any kid to feel ignored around Christmas. He remembers waking up Christmas morning with no gifts to open.
“My dad he worked, but didn’t make a lot of money. It’s hard to have a big Christmas with five kids,” he said.
That’s why every year, he procures wooden scraps from neighbors and spends around $1,000 for other materials to craft various wooden toys such as small and large cars, dolls, piggy banks, tractors, and firetrucks. To him, it’s not about the money but rather about making kids feel cared for. He knows the feeling of not getting gifts on Christmas very well.
“I love when people ask me how much do I get paid for making these toys. I tell them my pay is when I see the smile on kids’ faces,” said Annis. “I hope to be able to do this until my toes curl up.”
This real-life Santa hopes to continue this tradition for years to come.
If you also want to help kids in need this Christmas, the Salvation Army has Christmas programs for sign up in 2019 starting in fall. The assistance programs available for sign up from each location will vary, but there will almost always be some type of food or free gifts given during the Christmas season to the less fortunate. There is never a cost to apply for a resource, and the help is provided for free to clients.
Salvation Army centers provide Christmas help to low-income families, with a focus on households with children and the elderly. This national organization is but one charity that low-income or struggling families can turn to for assistance.
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