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Kiwanis Club’s Santas prepare to deliver gifts

By Staff | Dec 8, 2010

For this 37th year, on the day before the day before Christmas — Dec. 23rd, to be exact — Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club Santas will deliver gifts to good little girls, boys, grandparents, visitors, pets and neighbors all across the islands.

Last year, five Santas made more than 125 stops, averaging approximately10 per hour. This year, there are six Jolly Ol’ St. Nick’s, each one with two helper elves.

Why? For fun… both yours and theirs. There’s no charge, but any donations go to Kiwanis Club projects primarily to benefit kids (including new Santa suits, cleaning expenses, and the like).

The island’s Friends Who Care charity enlists these intrepid Santas to deliver their presents to the less-privileged and/or lonely individuals who need a touch of Christmas spirit as well.

The tradition started almost 40 years ago, when islander Dick Muench decided to recreate a neighborhood tradition from his previous home in upstate New York.

“We were newlyweds then,” his wife, Emily, explained. “It was an experience that Dick would participate in with all the neighbors, even before we had children of our own.

“Dick missed that when we moved and decided to start the same thing here,” she continued. “And, of course, being who he is and being a Kiwanian, he got Kiwanis involved, too.

Want a Kiwanis Santa to deliver presents to your friends or family on Sanibel or Captiva? First, make sure they’ll be home between 5 and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 23. Then buy, wrap and label the presents you would have Santa deliver. If there are multiple kids, please have a gift for each. Santa gets teary-eyed whenever a kid is overlooked. And, yes, that has happened.

Here are a few holiday gift-giving guidelines to follow:

• Consolidate your wrapped, labeled gifts in protective plastic bags — one address per bag, please.

• Label each bag with the precise address including what part of the island the address is.

• Provide driving directions or a map (particularly for the condo complexes) from a main road.

• Provide a phone number (in case Santa gets lost!)

• Every bag must have a label. Multiple bags require multiple labels.

Santa will gladly congratulate the kid who got all A’s in school or one of your wife’s relatives who has stopped wetting the bed, if you attach a note briefing Santa on the outside. Print! Big! Keep it S-I-M-P-L-E. Don’t expect great oratory, though. Kiwanians are not geniuses like Rotarians or Lions or Zontettes. These are guys who still believe in Santa Claus!

Drop your labeled bags at Sanibel Fire Station #1 on Palm Ridge Road between now and 5 p.m. on Dec. 23. Big gifts — like bikes or a Lexus or a pony — will overwhelm Santa’s sleigh so, rather than drop them off, provide a note telling Santa where to find them on arrival.

Santa is happy to bounce your kids around on his lap… briefly! Nothing in Santa’s code prevents him from accepting goodies, but don’t forget the elves. Sorry, Santa can’t join your party — other good little boys and girls are waiting.

Call Dick Muench, aka “Father Christmas,” at 472-2812 or any Kiwanian with questions.