WAVELAND, Miss. – Santa’s elves eschewed the big guy’s sleigh and showed up in a U-Haul truck Thursday to hand out toys, clothing and Christmas trees to dozens of Katrina victims in this devastated community.
“The town of Lincoln City, Ore., drove five days to bring you this stuff,” local organizer Ron Hill told the eager crowd of moms, dads and kids who lined up along the truck in a Highway 90 parking lot. “Everything in this parking lot is for y’all.”
Stuffed animals, bedding, hats, shoes and toys spilled from cardboard boxes inside the distribution area that was cordoned off with yellow emergency tape. A stack of 50 carefully bundled Christmas trees lay in the center of the bounty.
“The only thing we ask is if you need it, take it; if you don’t need it, don’t take it,” Hill told the members of the crowd, many of whom had arrived with empty boxes and bags to carry away their gifts.
The U-Haul, pulling a trailer loaded with the trees, was driven from Lincoln City, on the central Oregon Coast, by Gordon McMinn and Chris Hollingsworth. McMinn said the give-away was the idea of a Lincoln City woman who spent time volunteering in the Katrina zone and returned to Oregon wanting to do more. Starting Dec. 2, she rallied a handful of key volunteers to begin the gift drive and “this is what three weeks later we’ve got right here,” McMinn said.
Lisa McIntyre of Bay St. Louis stopped by with her daughter-in-law, granddaughter and sister to select a tree, decorations and toys. “It’s nice for the kids,” she said.
“Pretty good for not being advertised, huh?” asked a beaming Hill, whose own white beard and kind eyes are perfect for playing Santa but somewhat undermined by the dark hair that peeks from beneath a Pelican Pub & Brewery cap.
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