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Santa Claus Seeks Successor and More Elves (December 17th, 2007)

Santaís work is year-round. Just ask Jim Tuman, 66, known to many as a real-life Santa Claus. Much like Santa, Tumanís work is most visible during the December holiday season when the charity he founded in 1989, Jimmyís Kids (www.jimmyskids.com), distributes presents collected throughout the year to special-needs and underprivileged children. The task is enormous and unlike the Yuletide icon, Tuman is aware of his mortality, having undergone open heart surgery earlier this year, and is looking for a successor to whom he can soon pass the sleigh reins.



ROYAL OAK, MICH. – Santa’s work is year-round.  Just ask Jim Tuman, 66, known to many as a real-life Santa Claus.  Much like Santa, Tuman’s work is most visible during the December holiday season when the charity he founded in 1989, Jimmy’s Kids (www.jimmyskids.com), distributes presents collected throughout the year to special-needs and underprivileged children.  The task is enormous and unlike the Yuletide icon, Tuman is aware of his mortality, having undergone open heart surgery earlier this year, and is looking for a successor to whom he can soon pass the sleigh reins.

Before his illness set in, this year he planned on passing out over 100,000 gifts nationwide from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, tripling last year’s donation.  After a late start due to his surgery (in September) and post-surgery infection, coupled with his biggest contributors losing their businesses due to the economy and several untimely key volunteer deaths, Tuman’s mountain gets harder to climb each day.

Since Jimmy’s Kids inception, Tuman has made holiday cheer a reality for hundreds of thousands of families by planning and delivering gifts at “merry parties” to special-needs children, many of which are hosted by sport and local celebrities.

When Tuman is not distributing presents, he is busy with his staggering daily list of duties, and his successor will be too.  On top of gathering toys, rounding up donors, playing Santa, throwing merry parties, answering nearly 300 calls a day, traveling around the world giving speeches on suicide prevention and combating the breakdown of families as well as attempting to have a personal life – Tuman is also writing a book.

Tuman’s mission is not solitary – along the way, he’s found “little helpers” to lend an occasional hand due to persistence and a belief in the goodness of others, including many Jewish & Muslim people who went door to door for donations. “People are incredible- they come out of the woodwork to get things done, like magic,” recalls Tuman.

So what does it take to fill Santa’s Boots?  Tuman’s looking for a special person. “The Number 1 quality is a sense of passion to make a difference in kids’ lives.  If that’s not there it’s just another day at the office.”

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Tom Gould
Shazaaam! Public Relations
www.
tgould@shazaaam.com