Effingham Resident Spreading the Christmas Spirit as Santa


Published on December 24 2013 10:48 am
Written by Wayne Moran

88 year-old Jim Rodgers is pretty busy this time of year, and so are his neighbors. Jim lives in the Slate Creek apartment complex on Effingham's south side, a place that has apparently become "Santa's Workshop".

Jim is a member of the Effingham VFW, American Legion and the DAV Club. Three years ago, he took on the role of Santa Claus. Armed with donations from the three organizations, the initial idea was to give presents to children on the pediatric and newborn floors of St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital to brighten their Christmas.

His neighbors at Slate Creek help wrap the gifts, and his good friend Sid Reaves, his "Elf", helps distribute them. One of his neighbors' daughters made the Santa Claus outfit, which he said he wears at Slate Creek sometimes to greet children. Jim said that the VFW, American Legion and the DAV "always give a lot", and that Wal Mart is also a contributor of gifts.

This year's giving started Friday night, the 20th, with Jim and Sid visiting the hospital, where Santa visited two boys on the Pediatrics floor, then took six more presents to newborns recently delivered. Jim told us this number was down from recent years, but said "that's probably a good thing that there's not too many on the pediatrics". After a trip to St. Anthony's, the two made their way to dinner at Denny's on Keller Drive, where they are regulars. Jim said there was only one young boy there Friday night, so they decided to return Saturday evening, and that's where a local mom took this picture of the two. "Santa" had just given presents to two young girls at the restaurant.

Even though the number of kids at hospital was down this year, Jim tells us he's confident he'll find children to give gifts to, adding that he had heard of a local family in need, and hoped to visit them today, on Christmas Eve.

He told us he saw the photo on our Facebook pages, and pointed out that yes indeed, the beard is real. He grew it when he decided to become Santa. He said, "the first year we did this, there were several children at the hospital, and we had a lot of fun." Jim decided then he'd keep doing it as long as he could.