The True Spirit of Christmas is immune from COVID-19. That spirit is the driving force behind the 16th Annual Kris Kringle Christmas Party at Harbor Crab Restaurant in Patchogue on December 16.
The Kris Kringle event was born in 2004, when Mark Miller and Frank Mills decided to stop wasting money on gifts for each other and instead put $500 apiece into an envelope then invited their staff to spread word about a Kris Kringle Christmas Party. Free food and drinks, the only requirement being the purchase of raffle tickets. They raised $18,000 and along with their other business partner Brian Kearns and 300 others they delivered the money to a family in need.
From that beginning, where the spirit of Christmas crept into the hearts of two men like a silent night, the Kris Kringle event has grown. Since 2004, the fund has given over $1.1 million—cash, gifts, used cars, oil tank refills—whatever it takes to get families back on track.
The idea is to identify families who have been knocked off the path for some reason—loss of employment, sudden illness, any reason aside from drug addiction, alcoholism, or perennial poverty.
I have participated as Santa Claus in this event for the past 9 years and it has given me a front row seat to the miracles of Christmas. Last year, a woman pushing a baby carriage approached me. I recognized her as one of the recipients of the prior year’s donations. The woman directed me to look into her baby carriage, where the latest member of her family was swaddled in blankets. As I peered into the carriage, the mother said in a low voice with her lips close to my ear, “I wanted YOU to be the first Santa Claus my baby ever sees. We will never forget last year.”
I am not Santa Claus. But participating in this unique way, in an event inspired by the true meaning of Christmas, has blessed me beyond measure. That’s the thing. It’s not only the recipients who benefit from the joy and love being delivered to families in our community. Everyone who participates in this event walks away a changed person; blessed beyond measure.
I wear the Santa suit, but the eyes of Kris Kringle, the eyes through which these miracles are witnessed, belong to each and every of us.
For safety precautions this year, the money was raised virtually and on-line. It will be delivered the same way. As it has for 16 years, Kris Kringle will spread the love and joy—but NOT the virus!