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Blue Santa comes to town

Military mom Kenya McCall is now ready for Christmas, thanks to a little help from Santa — Blue Santa, that is.

The mother of three children, ages, 2, 5 and 14, is a member of the Army National Guard and recently returned to her hometown of Port Arthur. The past few months have been filled with bills, Hurricane Ike and an ill family member.

“This is so helpful,” McCall said as she loaded a bag of toys and a bicycle with training wheels into her car outside the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center on Friday. “There are a lot of people out here who need help, especially after Ike.”

The gifts came courtesy of the Port Arthur Police Department’s Blue Santa Program. This year, with the help of the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and the law firm of McPherson, Hughes, Bradley, Wimberly, Steele, Chatelain, LLP, a total of $27,000 was raised. Officer Steve Flores said the law firm held a silent auction and raised about $14,600 of the total. Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince drummed up $7,000 in donations with her State of the City Address and other funds came from private and other donations.

Flores said 500 children from about 240 families will receive toys.

Clad in a camouflage Santa hat, Port Acres area resident Wayne Newsom grabbed plastic garbage bags filled with toys and helped the Blue Santa officers distribute the gifts to families at the Civic Center.

Each year Newsom makes a generous donation to the program and picks out the gifts himself with the help of Marina Flowers, his girlfriend.

“Look at the smile it puts on peoples faces,” Newsom said while looking at a mother holding a bag of toys. “Look at the smile it puts on my face.”

Newsom buys hundreds of dollars of toys at a time but focuses his story on the people who help him in his quest to help others. He tells of a small girl who saw him shopping one day and asked if he was Santa. He explained Santa was busy but he was Santa’s helper. Later the child donated a large ballerina doll to Newsom to give to a child less fortunate, he said.

For police officers in the Street Crimes Unit who are part of the program, playing Santa is a different way to serve the city.

“It’s all about the kids at this time of the year,” Lt. Jon Carona said while taking a quick break from distributing toys. “We are able to give back to the community by helping families at Christmas, especially this year after having to deal with Hurricane Ike.”

mmeaux@panews.com