Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Many of you probably saw Santa and his Elf during December. We were hard to miss! We were very busy this year, with many places to go and people to visit with. I would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people.

Rick Forrester is the best Santa anyone could ask for. He truly embodies the spirit behind the season. I have been blessed beyond measure by his friendship and partnership in our efforts to bring joy and happiness to others at Christmas time.

We started out the month at the Kiwanis fundraiser at the Festival of Trees Family Day. We enjoyed a full day of visits and photos with little ones. We love our Kiwanis members here, smiling faces, and dedicated people, always ready to lend a hand. Later that evening, Santa and I were in the Twilight Christmas Parade and we rode in Ron Colton's carriage being pulled by his team of Percherons, Duke and Diamond. Many thanks to Ron for being such a great asset to this community and an incredibly generous and kind man.

The following weekend, the folks at Ryder Bros. and Tawny's Toy Box invited us for an afternoon of photos, crafts and visits with happy children. Thank you for making us feel so welcome and for giving so much to this community. We appreciate you.

Santa had a long career in law enforcement and believes very strongly that we, as citizens, need to thank our public officers and employees. We spent several hours visiting the courthouse, city hall and sheriff's station. I loved seeing grown ups smile as if Santa really did exist. We passed out candy canes, smiles and hugs to each person working that day and thanked them for the work they do to keep this city running. Santa gave me a true lesson in gratitude that day.

One of our most treasured visits each year is the Foster Family Christmas Party. Sandy and the crew at DHS are incredible. To spend a few hours listening to the Christmas wishes of foster children is something I hold close to my heart. It is an honor and privilege to be a part of their celebration.

This year, we had a new event on our schedule. Stephanie Kinzel organized a fabulous Christmas Bazaar and fundraiser for the Veteran's Advocates of Oregon-Idaho. For every person that attended, she agreed to volunteer one hour at a place of their choosing. Amazing. We were more than happy to be a part of this event. I know it will continue to grow year after year.

Sharon and her crew at Country Cottage requested that Santa and I attend their annual Christmas party. A great time was had by all and we were both sent home with her fantastic homemade apple pie. They are such a great group of people.

On a chilly Thursday, Santa and I made our rounds to all of the classrooms at Brooklyn Elementary and the kindergarten classes as well. This was the day after the tragedy in Connecticut and it was a bittersweet time for Santa and the Elf. Special thanks go out to Principal Troy Fisher and his lovely wife Megan for inviting us and organizing our visits with each class. We are grateful to the teachers in our community, for the guidance and care they provide to our children.

We also took a little time to visit the businesses along Main Street and spread Christmas joy to our small business owners. They give so much to this town; they needed a special visit from Santa too!

Our assisted living facilities in Baker City are amazing places. It truly is as much fun visiting seniors as it is visiting children. They bless us each year with their smiles and sweet hugs. We attended Christmas parties at Meadowbrook Place and Settler's Park. To be able to pass out presents and pose for photos with those lovely people is something Santa and I truly cherish.

Our last appearance of the season was at our local library. Extra special thanks go to our dedicated library director, Perry Stokes. He organized this event, advertised it and provided some really great books for Santa to read to the children. What a special afternoon that was.

We have an exceptional community here. As Santa's merriest elf, I am thankful for many things this year, for the lives that we touched, for the opportunity to volunteer and give back, and for being welcomed by so many. Santa and I gave of our time during the month of December. It is my greatest hope that this will inspire each of you to give of your time and talents in the coming year. Look at what a few hours can do. Pay it forward.

Marna Farney lives near Haines.