Who says Santa Claus and his helper elves can’t be Jewish? For Daryl Gamerman and Stanley Fishman from the Freemason’s Sharon Lodge #182 in Reisterstown, Santa’s religion is a nonfactor when it comes to helping those in need.
Over the past five years, Gamerman, as the elf, and Fishman, as Santa, have brought Christmas to Sarah’s Hope at Hannah More, a shelter for families experiencing homelessness in Reisterstown.
The first year Gamerman dressed up, he didn’t realize how many people at the shelter would need some holiday cheer.
“I came down here thinking it was 10 or 15 kids,” Gamerman recalled, as he was suiting up for another year on the job on Dec. 18. “It was 85 kids in the shelter, plus moms and dads. I said, ‘We’ll bring Christmas to you.’ I go out as the elf, and I bring them all in by family, and they don’t know what to expect. There are gifts and food for all of them.”
Even once the festivities are over, Gamerman is already planning the next way he can help out the shelter. In February, he’ll be gathering backpacks to gift to all the school-age children at the facility.
“We had a ton of extra gifts that we left behind,” Gamerman said. “If other residents come in during the next week or so, there are presents for them. I had three extra bags of snacks also leftover and the shelter will use those, too. The lodge pays for the gifts and food brought to the families. It’s very inexpensive [to help out].”
Gamerman says some of the kids worry Santa won’t find them.
“They don’t have a house anymore. [They might think] Santa doesn’t know what their address is,” Gamerman said. “We thought the kids would be hopeless. Now, they have hope. Santa’s found them. They get gifts that are appropriate for them; they get something to eat and get a picture with Santa and the elf. They can’t afford $30 at the mall, some can’t get to the mall. So they have a memento of a night of hope. We cover all the expenses, and we enjoy it immensely.”
Fishman’s reasoning for helping out is simple: the kids’ reactions.
“The joy on their faces says everything,” he said. “Their eyes light up.”
For Gamerman, it’s a similar feeling.
“They thought Santa and the world had forgotten them,” he said. “Meanwhile, here are two Jewish guys bringing hope to them. They thought it would be a year without Christmas.”
Any donations can be brought to the Sharon Lodge #182 at 85 Main Street in Reisterstown.