William Swinnerton called the editor’s office this week to share a story about a little boy and Christmas.

Seventy-five years ago, he said, there was a 9-year-old boy who didn’t think much of Christmas. His mother had died when he was 5 days old and his father passed away around his ninth birthday. Without parents to celebrate with, he didn’t have any expectations of getting gifts or having much of a holiday at all.

“Everybody was bragging about what Santa Claus would bring them and he hated to hear anything about it and was so depressed,” William said. “He didn’t believe in Santa Claus.”

As luck would have it, on Christmas Day, the Salvation Army brought this 9-year-old a package with Christmas gifts from Santa. “That changed his attitude a little bit about Santa Claus and Christmas,” William said.

“When he was old enough, he grew a white beard and put on a red and white suit and pretended to be Santa Claus.”

Anyone who knows William can guess by now that little boy was him. He grew up to be one of Santa’s most popular representatives, patiently listening to children’s Christmas wishes and giving them reassurance that Santa loved them.

At malls, charity events and parties all over Southern California, William brought the spirit of Christmas with him.

He called to tell his story because he has a reminder for the people of the Morongo Basin: “Not everybody is expecting wonderful things at Christmas. Maybe, like the Salvation Army did for me, we can help those kids that are not fortunate enough to have parents.”

We join this ardent helper of Santa in wishing those children all the best this holiday season and every day of the year. But we can do more than wish. Those of us who have a little extra, whether it’s time or money, can do our part to give a happy holiday season to local children who are without family, or whose families can’t provide all that Christmas promises.

As William said, there’s a lot of organizations out here that help people. We’ll list a few at the end of this editorial. They all need toys, time and of course, money, to make a merry Christmas for people in need this year.

•Mara’s Christmas Wish provides a free buffet and toys for children on Christmas Day at the Yucca Valley Community Center. You can leave your donations with county firefighters in front of Walmart from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday this month. Call (760) 792-7126.

•The Food For Life Ministry will provide a Christmas meal and toys Dec. 22 at Palms Baptist Church in Twentynine Palms. They need toys and volunteers. Call Kelly Schumacher at (760) 819-3054.

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