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Kids have breakfast with Santa

December 10, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Sitting on a tall wooden chair, the custom-made red suit jiggled under his hands as he practiced a hearty laugh, "Ho, ho, ho."

Waiting for more children to arrive Saturday morning at Red Lobster for the Chambersburg Toy Mission's annual Breakfast with Santa, the novice Santa's feet dangled excitedly from the chair.

"Where are your reindeer today?" a passer-by asked him.

Puzzled by the question, 4-year-old David Sandell adjusted his red hat and replied simply, "I don't have any reindeer, just a rocking horse. I call him Donner."

Children of all ages came to the seafood restaurant Saturday morning to meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and help raise money for the toy mission. Juanita Welker, executive director of the mission said the breakfast has been an annual event for the last 14 years.

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For 12 of those 14 years, Dick and Shelly Hoffman have dressed as the magical couple, and entertained guests at the breakfast as a way to give back to the community. This year, the Hoffmans received unexpected help from David.

"Seeing the children smile, you see hope in the future," Dick Hoffman said.

More than 500 children this Christmas will find hope in the form of a toy thanks to the Chambersburg Toy Mission.

Between the end of September and Thanksgiving, Welker said the mission will collect "thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands" of toys.

With the help of fundraisers such as Breakfast with Santa, the mission's volunteers clean, repair and distribute toys to needy children each Christmas.

"Every child should get something on Christmas," said Tony Anzick, a volunteer at the mission.

The mission has worked for more than 60 years to ensure every child in Franklin County has a gift waiting under their tree on Christmas Day, Welker said.

While most of the people who dined with Santa on Saturday morning might not need the assistance of the mission this year, most still believe in the power of Santa to bring Christmas cheer.

"I believe in the spirit of Santa," said Ester Walck of Greencastle, Pa. "Even when your are as old as I am, it is still a thrill to be where Santa is."

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