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Santa#8217;s #8216;elves#8217; holiday veterans

The two women sitting behind the beat-up brown library table look far too

young and pretty to be confused with that elderly and robust gentleman in the red suit who will be making the midnight sleigh ride next month.

But playing Santa Claus or at least his elves is what Lynn Cremeans and Angie McGinnis have been doing since early morning as they take the applications for this year’s Christmas food and toy baskets giveaway at the Ironton City Mission.

Patiently, they ask each client what the children in her brood would like for Christmas, much the way Kris Kringle does with each child who hops up on his lap.

For those who seem a little reticent, they quietly suggest this or that toy.

Their ease at the job is apparent and comes from doing this year after year. Both are veteran volunteers at the mission, where even back as students at Rock Hill High School they would show

up when not in class or doing homework to work food drives or pack toy baskets or anything else the mission needed.

For both women volunteering here is a family affair. For Cremeans, it’s partly because her

brother-in-law, Jeff Cremeans, runs the mission. But long before she married her husband, Dave, she was down at the mission.

“I’ve done it all my life,’’ she said. “And I married into it.’’

This Thanksgiving she was up bright and early in the kitchen helping, along with about a dozen others, cook the mission’s holiday meal that fed just under 500.

As far as McGinnis, she is just following in the footsteps of her mother, Gladys Ray, who is a long-time volunteer at the mission.

“I used to come down with my mom,’’ she said. “I like to volunteer and give my time to help where I can. It makes me grateful for what I have.’’

And just as volunteering was a part of these women’s lives at an early age, they are introducing their youngsters to this vital work.

Cremeans’ two sons, Andrew, 7, and Daniel, 4, joined their mother to work a recent food drive. Andrew also helps out in his community in food drives and trash pickup with his Cub Scout Pack 104.

“It’s about the giving,’’ she said.

Likewise, McGinnis is showing

to her children, Lily, 9, and T.J., 6, the joy and satisfaction that comes from helping others .

Her reason is simple:

“To make them appreciate what they have,’’ she said.