Santa Claus and a group of Dumas Noon Lions Club members and relatives led by Pam Cox, along with Lions Club Sweetheart Macie Medrano, brightened the lives of 47 children from 17 Dumas and Cactus families Christmas Eve. The Lions and Santa were delivering presents to families who otherwise faced a harsh Christmas as part of the club's annual Christmas Sharing program.
"These are people who are having a rough time this year," said Cox. "We had one family where the husband has been really sick. They weren't going to get to have anything this year."
Santa got a lot of hugs from children who never imagined that they would ever come face to face with him coming in the front door. A few couldn't contain themselves and ran to meet him in the front yard. There were hugs from the adults too and not a few tears.
"It is kind of sad, but it is rewarding helping people who are struggling," said Cox. "I take my grandkids, so they see how things really are sometimes. They enjoy doing it."
This year, in addition to the presents for the children, the Lions gave each family a $100 food voucher and a smoked ham. Cox delivers the food vouchers before Christmas Eve so the family has time to shop. "There was one little girl who ran over and hugged my leg," she said. "I ask them when I deliver the food vouchers, 'Do you want me to bring Santa to see you on Christmas Eve?' They are like, 'Oh, yes!' It is very cute."
In the weeks preceding Christmas, Cox receives lists from the elementary schools of families with children who are facing a bleak Christmas. Cox calls the families to get the children's clothing sizes and find out what they are wanting for Christmas. Members of the Lions Club then take the lists, purchase the items, and wrap them, so that Santa, Cox, and her volunteers can deliver them on Christmas Eve.
The Lions pay for the Christmas Sharing program with money they raise from various activities and from donations. In recent years, they have raised money for the program, in part, by selling smoked turkeys at Thanksgiving. This year, club members also smoked and sold hams for Christmas. Earlier this year, Continental Carbon donated $5000 to the Lions to specifically help with the program. "It is a very worthwhile cause," said Tony Brazell, Operations Manager of the Sunray plant, as he presented a check to the Lions.