Students give Santa a new suit - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Students give Santa a new suit

December 15, 2005

Douglas- For 44 years, twice a year Joe Farris has traveled to St. Judes Children's Hospital to deliver gifts he collects at area schools. This year the students at Coffee High donated way more than his Santa bag could ever handle.

"I've been a nervous wreck because I didn't know how many they had collected, and they wouldn't even let me come in here to look. They would even let me peek, so I knew they must have had more than they usually collect," Farris says.

During a recent Christmas party for Hurricane Katrina victims the students realized his Santa suit was old and worn, an outfit unacceptable for the man they all call the "real Santa."

"When we got on the internet we realized that Santa suits don't come cheap. We told the kids how much the Santa suit was going to cost and they said no problem. We'll have it in two days, and they did," says Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Dawn Lewis.

"They donated so much because they love Mr. Farris and they understand what he does for our community," sophomore Tara Blankenship adds.

After being serenaded by the chorus singing his favorite song, an ecstatic Joe Farris had to dry his eyes just to get a good look at his new Santa suit.

"The most I've ever had is they push me out the door and tell me to get in the van. I've never had nothing special happen before. This is a real treat," he says.

It's a treat that cost nearly $1,000, but it's a gift Coffee students and teachers says is well worth it.

"The kids were so excited. They were disappointed everyone couldn't be here, but our technology department had it live in all the classrooms so all the students got to witness the ceremony," explains teacher Renee Roberson.

"It gives you hope in the future because their hearts are big. They have big hearts," Lewis says.

So, as Farris prepares to make his 88th trek to the Tennessee hospital, the students at Coffee High will be proud to know their "real Santa" has an suit as special as the man wearing it.

The students also awarded Farris will a VIP chair in their cafeterium and a new garment bag to hold his brand new suit.

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