The Stuart G. Luginbuhl post of the American Legion in Mount Carmel was filled with the sounds of laughter and celebration Dec. 3 as Santa paid an early holiday visit to 90 children from across Clermont County.
“It is a tradition the county American Legion posts have been engaged with for over 60 years,” said Don Chandler with the American Legion’s Milford post. “The Legion’s nine posts work with schools in the county to identify children who are most in need. We get wish lists from the kids and purchase the items; with Santa’s (Dave Brewer) help, the gifts are presented at the annual holiday party.”
The tradition began in 1945, when a wealthy local businessman donated money to the Legion to help make the holidays a little brighter for needy children.
The Ohio State Patrol Batavia Post stopped by to present each of the children with a toy bear.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community," said Batavia Ohio State Patrol Post Commander Lt. Randy McElfresh. "It's a lot of fun to see how excited these kids are to receive gifts they had only dreamed about in the past."
Shiners' clowns "Handy" John Schaffer and "Gym Shoe" Jim Brewer kept the kids entertained while waiting for their chance to visit with Santa.
The pair made an amazing array of balloon animals and hats for the kids to take home to remember their special day.
"This is a tradition that really warms your heart," said Chandler. "Looking across this room, it is so wonderful to see the kids laughing and having a good time. There are many dedicated volunteers that make this program possible each and every year. This is what community is all about."