‘Make my mom happy’ — Santa’s helpers rescue family’s Xmas

It was just a chance meeting between a young girl in Peachtree City and a firefighter dressed as Santa Claus. But that meeting, and the wish the little girl made to Santa, is having a result that her little heart could have scarcely imagined.

Firefighter Dan Marsden was playing the part of Santa on the department’s recent “Santa Run,” an annual event that has Santa riding atop a fire truck through Peachtree City’s neighborhoods, said Peachtree City Fire Department Public Information Officer Ron Mundy.

Mundy explained that while turning the truck around in one neighborhood, “Santa Dan” saw a little girl (we’ll call her Monica for this story) with a bag in her hand. Santa Dan hopped off the truck, thinking that the girl might have a donation for the Fayette Samaritans organization, said Mundy.

“I gave her some candy and then she asked, ‘Can you do me a favor? I just want you to make my mom happy,’” said Santa Dan. “She told me others had been asked to help but no one followed through. I told her Santa has a way of making things happen.”

Marsden and his wife visited the home the following day, relaying to Monica‘s mother (we’ll call her Carissa) what her daughter had said and asking how they might help. Little did Carissa know that the word would go out and the help that would come would be beyond her wildest dreams.

“We shared her story with friends and people rallied around this,” Santa Dan said. “The Holy Trinity (Catholic Church) women’s group got involved. People were inspired. Even people in Boston (Marsden’s home town) and friends in Virginia and California sent donations.”

Marsden said the family was treated to a shopping spree by the Tim Hudson Foundation and will soon be partnered with the Helping Hands organization in Atlanta.

Coordinating the Christmas effort were Kim LaGreek Matheny, Debbie McFarland and Gail Okonski Simmerman. McFarland on Monday said donations have poured in from across the community. A sampling of the items received included a Christmas tree along with interior and exterior decorations, two bedroom sets, a bicycle, pots and pans, curtains and sheets, clothing, toys, books and a number of gift cards and certificates.

McFarland said Carissa, the mother of three young children, is recently single, without a vehicle and in need of help.

“She doesn’t have much help,” McFarland said. “We wanted to give her a jump-start.”

And that is what has happened, with many of those lending a helping hand to a family in need asking to remain anonymous. Giving without measure, their actions exemplify the the real spirit of Christmas.

There is a lot be said for a chance meeting on the side of the road, one where a little girl had the courage to ask for help for her mother, and one where a firefighter playing Santa Claus was willing to listen to her request and to honor it.

And at the end of the day it can honestly be said that, “Yes, Monica, there is a Santa Claus.” He just happened to be riding a fire truck.