Oh, I just love this time of the year!
Sparkling snow outside, our windows rich in lights, people rushing around to buy gifts for their loved ones, mothers and grandmas preparing for the delicious Christmas dinner, reddish decorations and Christmas cards, children hanging their stockings, mouth-watering turkey…
But wait, what is Christmas really about? Jim Annis sees Christmas as an opportunity to give, and for the last 50 years, he has been Santa’s best helper!
The 80-year-old Army veteran has been creating wooden toys, including dolls, small and large cars, piggy banks, tractors, and firetrucks, for children from struggling families.
Every holiday season, this amazing man spends his days carving, sculpting and sanding wooden blocks, to donate them to the Salvation Army of Sanford:
“When the Salvation Army gives out the food and clothes to people in this area, I give out my toys. It feels like you’re sort of forgotten about at Christmas time.”
He donates about 300 toys every year, and apart from the wooden scraps he gets from his neighbors, he pays for the rest out of his pocket. He claims it costs him about $1000, but he claims he receives his pay when he sees the smile of the kids’ faces.
Annis remembers waking up on Christmas mornings when he was a child and finding out he has 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.”
Yet, this real-time Santa enjoys being able to make children happy:
“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. I hope to be able to do this until my toes curl up.”
After Annis’s story was published on Dec. 11, 2019, the media attention helped many people to support his worthy cause.
Touched by his kindness, people from California and Texas donated supplies, money, and even 500 wooden wheels to help him spread the Christmas joy once more.