|10 years and counting for Optimist Santa Visitation|
|Tuesday, December 17, 2013 9:26 PM|
BY NANCY SPENCER
It’s been 10 years since the Delphos Jaycees folded and as many years since the Optimist Club adopted the former club’s Santa Visitation program. Santa Visitation has been held in Delphos for more than 50 years.
Outgoing program chair Optimist Member Jay Kundert can mark his time with “Santa” as a Jaycee.
“This is a great project. I’ve been a Santa’s helper nearly every year for a long time,” Kundert said. “It’s kind of a tradition with a lot of the guys that help out. Rick Burgei’s been with it for almost 40 years, Tony Wehri for 20-some and Adam Ricker came back from Tennessee for eight years to be a helper. We also have our Junior Optimists fill ‘Santa’s’ bags.”
The thrust of the project is for a child whose family member requests a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve to receive a toy and candy along with time spent with the jolly ‘ol elf.
“The response from kids runs the gamut,” Kundert said. “They are at the door and they’re excited. Some are scared and some can’t get close enough. Some stand back. It’s Santa’s job to warm them up. Eventually they all come around.”
Kundert is stepping down as chair this year and Doris Dickman and Maggie Wannemacher are in charge this year.
“This project fits in very nicely with the Optimists motto ‘Bringing out the best in kids.’ What better way to do that than to have Santa visit their homes,” Dickman said. “It’s one way we can give back to the community.”
More than a dozen people make sure the operation rounds smoothly. Once the list of children is received, Chuck Shumaker does the logistics so Santa’s helpers’ rounds go smoothly. Six to eight Santas make anywhere from 50-70 stops visiting 250-300 children.
Age-appropriate educational and/or interactive toys for children are purchased with donations. No child is turned away. Any child in the Delphos City School District is welcome to participate.
There is still time to submit a name for visitation. Santa visitation is for children ages 0-9. The child’s name, gender, address where presents should be delivered and a phone number should be sent to: Santa Visitation, P.O. Box 192, Delphos OH 45833. If a certain time is requested, note information in letter. Please type or clearly print the information.
The letters must be received by Friday.
Santa will begin his route at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Donations are also accepted at the same address.