AUSTIN (KXAN) — Not all elves live at the North Pole. Santa is getting help from a special community of workers in Austin this year.
Residents of Querencia Barton Creek, a retirement community in southeast Austin, are helping Santa by answering letters written by kids at Children’s Blood and Cancer Center, CBCC, in Austin, part of Dell Children’s Medical Center.
Staffers at Dell Children’s put a mailbox up in the center at the beginning of December. The mailbox is especially for letters to Santa. Mary Frasher, Art & Development Coordinator at the center, says kids walking to treatment pass the box and get really excited.
So for the past three weeks, kids of all ages have been writing letters, asking for Legos, Shopkins, iPads, games and other toys. Some just ask Santa for a nice gift — others have gone into detail about gifts for brothers and sisters, too.
The letters were delivered to Santa’s local elves on Wednesday. Genny Williams (or Elf Number 42), a resident at Querencia, is writing a letter back to Ara at Dell Children’s, making sure she knows that Santa has something special picked out for her, and that Santa’s grateful Ara wrote to him.
Williams had to work very hard to become an elf, and she wants kids to know that elves comes in all shapes and sizes: you just never know when you might be talking to one. She loves working for Santa and answering letters on his behalf. She swears he reads every letter eventually, but especially around Christmas, he’s just too busy making toys for boys and girls around the world to get back to everyone quickly.
Elf Number 42 also wants to remind the kids at CBCC that Christmas is less about presents, and more that Santa cares for them. She says Santa hates being away from the North Pole, and understands how hard it can be for kids to have to spend so much time in a hospital, away from their own homes.
CBCC tries to schedule patients so that treatments don’t occur over the holidays, but unfortunately, that’s not a reality for everyone.
Jack Puryear, who is in charge of the elves at Querencia, knows that struggle all too well. He got involved with the fight against cancer after his mother passed away when he was young. When he began working with kids’ cancers in the 1970s, he says 80 percent of kids would lose their battles. Now, the numbers have flipped: 80 percent of kids diagnosed with cancer survive. Jack’s now 93 years old, and he still actively supports the effort to make all kids cancer-free.
According to Jack, the reason these elves are working so hard to reply to all the letters sent from Dell Children’s is simple: “It’s all about children.”