One of Santa’s Best Helpers
By Norwood Walker
Santa’s Helpers has been active in Person County for some time, and, thanks to the Steelhorse Strangers (see the Fall 2020 issue of Hyco Lake Magazine for their story) is able to help more children than ever before have brighter Christmases.
This is a diverse group of volunteers that dates back to the 1960s when a young lawyer, George Jackson, served as co-founder of the group. George’s son, Burt, remembers both his dad and mom, Dot, being involved with Santa’s Helpers as well as his own involvement in 1979.
George said, as a ninth-grade football player, he and the rest of the team were talked into dressing as girls and running for football queen for a penny a vote. They were quite successful, raising over $600 and filling two pick-up trucks with toys.
The volunteers for Santa’s Helpers come from diverse backgrounds. The current coordinator, Robin Simpson, became involved over 30 years ago because of her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.
There is one woman who has Robin beat in the number of years of service to Santa’s Helpers. That woman is Pecolia Beatty. When talking with Robin for the earlier story, she kept mentioning Beatty’s name. I began to think there just might be a story there.
Here is that story in Beatty’s own words…
“Santa’s Helpers has been a part of my life for over 40 years. I am now 76 years old and continue to volunteer with Santa’s Helpers. Over 40 years ago, I started volunteering with Santa’s Helpers with two other volunteers. I do not know the original group who started the organization; however, it is one of the best helping hand organizations that has helped thousands of children in Person County at Christmas. During the very early years the organization was working with new and used toys. We could only afford to give two toys per child.
When I became president of Santa’s Helpers, I recruited more volunteers and really began soliciting donations from the community and let me commend the giving hearts of Person County. As the years went on, the demands kept growing and the word was out that more volunteers were needed and also donations. One night during a Christmas holiday, the few volunteers we had were working very hard to sort toys and fill orders because we had received a lot of toys and all of a sudden through the doors came six more volunteers. I wanted to cry; however, I gave a big smile and many thanks. Santa’s Helpers is my heart but I also began to serve on various boards in the city.”
Beatty has served Roxboro and Person County well since she returned to the county from various teaching positions. She was a member of the Person County Board of Education for more than 10 years, and served on at least eight other boards in the city while serving for over 30 years as head of the Roxboro Housing Authority.
She became involved in Santa’s Helpers at a time when interest was fading. She began to put the organization on a sound footing by seeking contributions from area merchants and groups as well as inspiring others to volunteer. She has truly been one of Santa’s best helpers and a great asset to our area in many other ways as well. She continues to serve as a member of the Person County Needleworkers Board, the Roxboro LaSertoma Club, and Chapter 576 of the Eastern Star, as well as Santa’s Helpers.
Santa’s Helpers of Person County
Norwood Walker has spent many years in a classroom on one side of the desk or the other. He loved to write poetry and stories in high school and his English teacher of three years once told him he might become a writer if he overcame his radical period. She is still waiting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rainbow’s End on Facebook.