Santa Visits Residents of John George Home in Jackson

Santa Visits Residents of John George Home in Jackson

By Nick Dentemaro
December 15, 2009

Thirty-three men sat in the John George Home dining hall Tuesday morning when a familiar, rosy-cheeked, bearded man delivered presents.

Bernie Omang smiles as Santa Claus (Philip Rosenberger) greets residents at the John George Home.

Some smiled as Santa Claus gave them new pants, sweatpants and sweaters.

Others were shy but still accepted the gifts, unwrapping them after Santa walked to the next table. Every man at the home at 501 E. Ganson St. received three gifts.

“I got a letter about you, Phil,” said Philip Rosenberger, the man who played Santa Claus.

Garden City native Phil Timler, 72, asked Rosenberger what the letter said, and he poked fun at the fact that Rosenberger had to ask a volunteer for his name, something Timler said Santa should know.

“Yes, I did, and it told me what you wanted, and that you were a good man,” Rosenberger said with a smile and a hearty laugh.

Timler laughed, shook Santa’s hand and opened his present. It was exactly what he wanted, needed and asked for: sweatpants.

The Forty and Eight, an honor society of veterans, collected $1,400 in clothes and other goods, including shaving cream, razors and soap, to give to the men for Christmas.

The sweatpants Timler received were nice and looked comfortable, he said. But he was quick to point out that the clothes are nothing like the present he received Monday night.

“These clothes are nice, but they’ve got nothing on my photo of Dolly Parton,” Timler said. “It’s a picture you’ve just got to see. She sure is nice looking.”

The picture of Parton now hangs above Timler’s bed. He said he wakes up and goes to bed with her at his side.

Carrie Good, administrator of the John George Home, said residents submitted lists of what they needed, and volunteers were able to purchase gifts they could use. One man asked for a pipe, while another asked for a Snuggie.

“It’s weird because this year, for these men, their wishes come true. They really come true,” Good said. “Even the bars of soap and shaving cream, that really does mean a lot to each of them. Some don’t even shave, but it’s the thought that keeps them going.”

In recent years, the community has stepped up to renovate and breathe new life into the John George Home, Good said.

“Jackson saved this home. Jackson gave us the money to get by, to make anew. We didn’t have the means to save it on our own,” she said. “These men have a place to sleep, a place to live this holiday season thanks to this community. For that, these men and I are so thankful.”

Reprinted with permission from Jackson Citizen Patriot
Copyright December 15, 2009

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