Messages from home reach troops in Afghanistan
AMERICAN CORNER — Those in the know, know a certain Santa spends his off season in a little place called American Corner in Caroline County. An apt place for him to be, as our Santa is by far the most patriotic one we’ve found.
Our Santa, none other than George Jackson, has the real beard to show for it — and instead of supervising the making of toys year round he spends his time collecting signatures for Christmas scrolls sent to the troops. To be clear children, Mr. Jackson, although not the “real” of Santa of the North Pole, is by far one of Santa’s best helpers.
That doesn’t let the children off the hook though — this Santa keeps his eye on kids big and little alike throughout the year and is frequently heard reminding them to “be good” and “eat your vegetables.”
For 41 years, Jackson has filled this role. Now in his 70s, and with some underlying health conditions, Jackson decided to take a break this year, due to COVID and the increased risks associated with age.
A true supporter of his hometown and community, Jackson has also made frequent Santa stops to help the Maryland State Police annual toy drive and also joins the Denton Volunteer Fire Department’s Santa Run — a route the firetruck takes during the holiday season to visit local neighborhoods.
“You have no idea how hard this is for me,” said Jackson, “but I have others to think of besides myself.”
In his years of curating the scrolls filled with well wishes and encouragement, Santa acquired the aid of many “elves” along the way, including his most loyal supporter, and wife of many years, Shirley.
Other elves include notable political names such as former U.S. Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, who would host Santa in 1997, for a trip up Capitol Hill.
Jackson said he thought it would mean a lot to the troops stationed away from home to get messages from members of Congress. U.S. Rep. Sonny Bono was the first congressman to sign the enormous card, and he was eager to meet “Santa,” Jackson recalled.
That was the third year Jackson
had filled the massive rolls of paper, sending the scrolls to Bosnia and other locations around the globe — proving Santa really does find a way to travel around the world at Christmas.
“There is no more real Santa than George Jackson,” Gilchrest
Through the years Santa continued traveling with his scrolls gathering signatures and visiting schools. On his first visit to Congress, Jackson in full Santa regalia also paid a visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Those who are able often write back after receiving the scrolls from home. And those letters to Santa are invaluable to Jackson.
SSGT. Tom Anderson writes in one postcard from Kandahar, “I spend most of my time in my fighting hole, but I read
a few (pieces of the scroll) whenever I get over to the terminal ... You have brought us all a little closer to home!”
The late Senator Paul Sarbanes was also a friend of Santa’s and signed a get well scroll to injured sailors aboard the U.S.S. Cole.
Jackson remembers one year sending an 873-foot Christmas scroll to the U.S.S. Constellation. The scroll was lost in the mail for months, but Sarbanes started a search and helped locate it on a loading dock and made sure it reached its destination.
And oh the stories Santa hears. “Years ago,” Jackson said, “when I first started the Christmas scrolls for deployed U.S. troops, an old man came