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Santa for a good cause: collecting Toys for Tots

Mrs. and Mrs. Santa Claus, aka Christy and Chuck Bloodgood, of Mendon, Ill. Chuck and Christy grew up in Hannibal, and attended prom together in high school. They were married in 2015. Contributed photo


Chuck Bloodgood, 74, grew up poor in Hannibal, in a family with four girls and four boys. “Dad wasn’t an educated man, he was a lumber jack. If it snowed or rained, he didn’t work.

“When I was 6 or 7,” Chuck said, “my dad didn’t work for two weeks,” which meant no money for food for the family. One night for dinner, Chuck’s mother served up bread with water gravy to her eight children. “Dad gave up his pride” and asked for a food voucher. He bought 20 pounds of potatoes and 5 pounds of beans.

The Salvation Army gave the family a five-pound bag of beans and bag of potatoes. “Mom said ‘tonight we’ll have beans and potatoes, and tomorrow (to change it up) we’ll have potatoes and beans.’”

“I grew up getting toys from the Salvation Army,” he said.

After two tours in Vietnam with the Navy and a career working as an electrician, those childhood memories still resonate.

The memories were the catalyst, some 10 years ago, for him to say yes to Steve Lindsey’s request to serve as Santa for Toys for Tots. Steve was coordinator for the organization of Marine reservists with the goal of supplying Christmas toys for children whose parents can’t afford them.

At the time of their first encounter at the Quincy Mall, Chuck already looked the part. He had a white beard, and was wearing a red shirt.“Steve and I hit it off great, and I’ve been Santa for Toys for Tots for 10 years,” Chuck said.

“A good portion of Salvation Army toys come from Toys for Tots.”

Santa suit

Once he committed to the cause, he needed to find a suit.

Chuck and his then-wife, Kathy (Edmondson White), found a woman in New Canton, Ill., who made outfits for the Quincy theater. “She must have had 25 or 30 suits in the closet,” he said. She quoted him a price of $300, which was a little steep for Chuck’s budget. When he told her he was to be using it for Toys for Tots, “she sold it to me for a hundred and a half, which covered her material and labor.”

Mrs. Claus

Chuck Bloodgood’s wife, Kathy, died in 2014. A month later, Chuck’s long-time friend, Bill Gouch, also died.

Bill Gauch was married to Christy Brummer, who Chuck took to Hannibal High School’s senior prom in 1967 or 1968, before leaving for Viet Nam. “I knew the whole family,” Chuck said. When Christy’s sister died (in 2015) “I went to the visitation, and found out Christy had a boyfriend. Chuck decided right then and there that he needed to get together with Christy to talk over old times.

He met Christy at a church yard sale, and asked her to go with him to get a cup of coffee.

Meanwhile, Christy’s daughter, Lisa, and best friend, Amy, started wondering where Christy was.

“Mom left with a guy,” Lisa said.

“Did he look like Santa?” Amy asked.

“Yes,” Lisa responded.

And Chuck and Christy have been together ever since. They married the following year.

“When we got married,” Christy said, “he asked me if I would I like to do Mrs. Claus. I was so shy; I didn’t think I was good enough. I wouldn’t talk to anybody. He got me started talking to people. I never thought I’d do anything like this, He brought me out of it.

“We’ve been married 8 years now. I’m just loving my life, and loving being Mrs. Claus.”


It isn’t always easy to be Santa and Mrs. Claus.

“A guy brought his daughter to the mall, crying her eyes out. She had big blue eyes.”

‘I want my dog back,” she told Santa.

“Three days before that I put down my big yellow lab,” Chuck said. “We got through that.”

Then there’s the story of a little boy age 7-8.

“Is there anything you want Santa to bring?”

“Nope,” then the boy said, “Make my mommy and daddy stop fighting.”

“Dad was standing about 10 or 15 feet away. I said, ‘Son, I’ll see what I can do.’ His dad took off real quick.”

Faith based

Chuck and Christy attend the Crossing Church at 48th Street in Quincy, Ill.

“We go to Crossing, and they love us right back. I even did Santa one year (at the Crossing) “You know what birthday we’re celebrating? Jesus.”

“You know, I give you all gifts, some last 10 minutes, 10 weeks, 10 years; but there’s a man out there who gives you a gift of eternity.”

“I had a lot a faith” as a child, Christy said. But it was knocked out of her by a preacher when she was young. Today, “I can’t believe how much different I feel. God has worked on me so much, I feel happy. I know God is in my life and he is taking care of me.”

While both Chuck and Christy have family roots in Hannibal, they now make their home at Mendon, Ill.

“I’m financially independent,” Chuck said, “everything I have is paid for.”

If people try to pay him for serving as Santa, he tells them to “make check out Toys for Tots.”

Mary Lou Montgomery retired on the last day of December, 2014, as editor of the Hannibal Courier-Post. Now she writes freelance stories for the newspaper.


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