PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For nearly three decades, a local group has brought Santa — and a lot of smiles — to children in the Delaware Valley who are suffering from cancer and other diseases. They’re at it again this Christmas Eve.
Chief Claus Jim McCloskey and his merry band of elves — volunteers from LaSalle College High School — make the rounds throughout the city, to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, and even to the Lehigh Valley and South Jersey, delivering gifts — and hope — to those who need it most:
“We’re looking at medically challenged family and financially stressed. And we wanted to make sure these kids aren’t going to be left out.”
McCloskey (photo), a director of the non-profit Committee to Benefit the Children, says the need is greater than ever for kids who might not make it to see another Christmas:
“I knocked on the outside door, and a little girl answered and she says, ‘Who is it?’ I say, ‘Santa.’ And all I hear was, ‘Mommy, I told you he was coming!’ She opened the door, it was a little girl, with a beautiful little smile — a 7-year-old that had an advanced stage of cancer. A month later she passed on. But as her mother said, that was a smile that was brought to her face that she hadn’t seen in 11 months.”
He and sleighs-full of volunteers bring presents galore to more than 100 families — not just for the patient, but also for brothers and sisters, and moms and dads:
“We have highway patrol with us, given some of the areas we go into, and I had your standard profile of highway patrol — a guy about 6’7″, the neck the size of your chest. He started rubbing his eyes — he goes, ‘McCloskey, I’ve got two little kids at home, and tonight, I’m going to pull them a little bit closer.’ They see that in the smile that’s there that wasn’t there a year ago, and that’s something we all walk away with. That’s truly the spirit of Christmas.”
For more on how you can help next year’s effort, go to http://www.cbckids.org/.
Reported By Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio.