Secret Santa in Muncie IN makes huge impact

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) -  Al Holdren can always get a crowd together for a good cause and Secret Santa is among his favorite ways to give back to the community.

It's about the giving of time and community to help  those in need that the local Salvation Army and other philanthropy always finds.

More than 1,200 volunteers assembled at west  marketplace of Meijer and Toyota of Muncie Saturday morning to help 260 families with a secret Christmas visit. Holdren, who has done the Secret Santa gig for a decade, continues to see growth, about 30 percent a year,  whether it's need or volunteers.

 "This is demonstrating giving and community," said Holdren, a businessman and community leader. 

People give their means and time to help those without a job, in ailing health or facing other poverty.

It's people like Amy who has a handful if kids and cannot find work while losing half of her public assistance for food.

Republicans in Congress recently cut $40 billion in nutrition programs while unemployment in Indiana still hangs around 7 percent. And hundreds line up every month for food from Second Harvest Food Bank and nearly 400,000 people still have no health care.

Chris Carter, radio celebrity for NASH FM, called the event organized chaos has teams of shoppers, wrappers and delivers kept the giving moving  that started around 6 a.m. 

 By 10 a.m., Holdren, with two men dressed as Santa Claus, announced the delivery could begin after hundreds of gifts were wrapped.Lines formed and deliverer went out to the community before noon.

Meijer offered thousands of dollars in gift cards besides the place for Secret Santa shoppers to buy gifts. And Toyota opened its showroom and lot to stage the wrapping and delivery.

Jeff Daniels, Toyota owner, was glad to give up a day of business besides contribute to the Secret Santa cause. 

Holdren does not seek corporate or philanthropic gifts for the cause but depends on his network of friends, their friends and their friends to make the event happen year after year.

 Brian Couch was there with his family wrapping gifts and holding up empty paper rolls to get more. He had three years of tee shirts showing the continual growth of Secret Santa just recently.

The giving is just one of many outreach efforts during the holiday that also includes Toys for Tots sponsored by the Muncie Fire Department and Salvation Army Christmas Wish.