Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

There is a Santa Claus

...there is a Santa Claus.

He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished...

(Francis P. Church, New York Sun, 1897)

A Midlands soldier and his family are trying to bring peace to Iraq; one child at a time. Specialist Jeff Salka is helping to put things back in order overseas. But according to his wife, it hasn't been easy.

Lorie Salka has listened to her husband's stories. "Several months after he left he told us about children running beside their convoy's pointing to their mouths for food and water. They were starving," said Salka.

When Lorie heard about soldiers giving all their supplies to the children, she enlisted the help of her dad, Albert, and they started a project. At first they sent snacks. Then toys and stuffed animals got added to the list of items that were shipped. The two use their free time scouring flea markets for items to send. They don’t accept donations; they pay a little something for everything, but Albert admits they get good prices. "I just don't want to impose on people I pay my way," said Albert. So far, he says there has been plenty to go around, "It seems like the more I send, the more money I have."

Their gift boxes have enabled Specialist Salka to deliver more than 1,200 hundred stuffed animals and even more snacks to the children living in tents. All the soldiers designate their rest and relaxation time to do this. Lorie says her husband loves this part of his job, "It's very important to them. They feel a need to do this.” Lorie and her father also feel that need, "It's an awful war. I will be glad when it's over in the meantime I want to make a difference for children."


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