Santa's helpers make calls in Carroll County

Santa Claus and his helpers made calls to more than 300 kids in Carroll County on Tuesday, Dec. 4 — with callers ranging from county Department of Recreation and Parks staff to commissioners.

The helpers made their calls with Santa for the second year, talking to children between the ages of 2 and 8 after receiving applications from their parents through the parks and rec website. Santa’s helpers asked the children about whether they were good this year, what they wanted for Christmas and how they got along with their siblings.

“We love reaching out to the children, just the magic in the whole belief of Christmas,” said Candy Sample, a volunteer coordinator for parks and rec, who helped Santa make calls with her husband, Matt.

Between calls, Matt Sample, who donned a pointy Santa hat with a white pom pom, said he agreed.

“We love the excitement, the pure innocence of Christmas, especially with the kids,” he said.

“We remember when we were kids, that moment when you’re almost questioning Santa, and something comes out of nowhere [and refreshes your belief]. We love doing it.”

The two love Christmas so much they got married last Christmas Eve and are coming up on their first anniversary, said Sample.

A couple rooms down, Deb Pujals, a member of the Westminster Police Auxiliary, prepared to make her calls with Westminster Police Chief Jeff Spaulding shortly before 5 p.m.

“It gets you in the [holiday] mood,” she said. “It’s very interesting what the kids say.”

Pujals said it is important for her to help St. Nicholas because “Santa has a lot of ground to cover in the world.”

For Spaulding it was particularly special for a different reason.

“It’s special to help Santa every year,” the police chief said, “but this January I will become a grandfather, so it’s extra special.”

The idea to help Santa Claus make his calls started last year with Lisa Carroll, Carroll County’s recreation bureau chief — who said she first saw the program while working in Williamsburg, West Virginia.

“Last year we had about 250 kids we called,” she said. “This year we have 313 on the list we are calling.”

She coordinated the event with the help from other parks and rec staff, including Director Jeff Degitz and his wife, Lisa, who also made calls.

“It’s a great way to start the holiday season,” Degitz said, “and we are really blessed to have volunteers all year long — but they really enjoy this. All the volunteers from last year came back again this year; we didn’t even have to ask them.”

In the room next door to Spaulding and Pujals, parks and rec sports complex manager Matt Decker wore his red hat and Christmas sweater, preparing to fulfill his duties.

He helped Santa last year, so he also knew what to expect.

“You talk to 10 kids in just a half-hour,” Decker said. “And I will be here the whole night. It’s nice to actually hear them get excited when they get on the phone.”

Even County Commissioners Richard Weaver, R-District 2, and Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, came with their wives, Lila Weaver and Audrey Rothstein, to help the cause.

And Degitz said they were having a ball, with Weaver in his second year making calls and Rothstein as a newcomer.

“Commissioner Weaver has told me multiple times this is the best thing he’s done as commissioner,” he said.

Weaver confirmed that Tuesday evening.

“It’s so positive, talking to the kids. You leave light-hearted and uplifted. It’s just phenomenal,” the District 2 commissioner said.

“And the kids, you never know where they're gonna go. One kid last year, she didn’t want the dog to get anything because he’d been bad. I couldn’t even get him a bone!”

Rothstein sported a red Santa cap and popped the pom pom in front of his face in efforts to catch the white ball with his teeth, ready to figure out where his list was and which kids he would be calling.

Although Rothstein is Jewish, he said he was happy to help Santa Claus. Weaver pulled him on board as one of Santa’s helpers after the swearing-in ceremony at the Carroll County government building just a few hours earlier.

“This is one of the real perks of being a commissioner,” Spaulding advised Rothstein after getting off of a call.

“This is an absolute perk, to being able to support the community, for the kids,” Rothstein said.

“And I also want to say Happy Hanukkah, on the third night, to all those who celebrate.”

jennifer.turiano@carrollcountytimes.com

443-488-0369

twitter.com/jturianoCCT

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