Santa Claus comes to town

Published 9:56 am Monday, December 15, 2008

Nine-year-old John Murphy didn’t have a long Christmas list, only two items, but he was earnest in presenting his two little wishes to Santa Claus Saturday afternoon at the Ironton City Center.

“A computer and a drum set,” John said, when asked what his wishes were.

Santa may have given the idea thumbs up, but on the sidelines, John’s mom, Cristianne, turned thumbs down on the drum set.

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The visit with Santa was arranged by members of the American Legion 433 in Ironton for area veterans and their families. While the kids got a personal chat with the jolly fat man and a gift bag, adults had the opportunity to talk to Lawrence County Veterans Service Officer Jack Welz and even sign up to join the American Legion.

If you think about it, World War II vets are approaching a nice old age and Vietnam vets, they’re our whippersnappers at 62,” explained Jack Volgares, sergeant-at-arms

for Post 433. “The Vietnam vets have the leg strength to go and do things like this.” But Volgares and second vice- commander Tom McClain would like younger vets to join their organization. Visits with Santa are aimed at boosting visibility. Post 433 is also developing a website that may be operational by the end of the year.

“We want to try to get the word out to vets from Afghanistan, the Gulf War, Iraq, to come and help,” McClain said.

McClain and Volgares said the primary objective of the American Legion is to serve veterans. Members pay visits to veterans at the V.A. Hospital and have begun visiting 125 vets now living in five area nursing homes. They have also embarked on a campaign to save the old Memorial Hall and turn it back into what the building was intended to be in the first place— a place to honor veterans.

“We think this can be a focal point for the community,” Volgares said.

Already the post has gotten donations for their mission. Other American legion posts from as far away as Gahanna and Mason have sent contributions.