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Santa Claus reads true meaning of Christmas to children

Belinda Schuler and Sophaia Levinson cozy up to Santa Claus. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

By Jasmine Willis

ATLANTA — The true meaning of Christmas time was shared when Santa Claus read a couple touching stories to children at a small-town library.

EJ Cottrell Memorial Library hosted Santa Claus reads to children again this year on Dec. 17. He read “The Christmas Sweater” by Glenn Beck and “Charlie and the Christmas Kitty” by Ree Drummond to the children about the true meaning of Christmas.

David Steinmetz sat and listened to Santa Claus read stories. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

A look around the library will show that this small-town has brought the joy and love to this community center. A Thomas Kinkade Puzzle is nearly complete on the card table. A Santa Shop is open in the children’s room. A little Christmas Tree glows with the faces of local children on homemade ornaments.

Dominick and Sophaia Levinson with Santa Claus. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Belinda Schuler, EJ Cottrell Memorial Library director said the library began the Santa Shop about five years ago.

“One of our patrons had brought the idea to us after seeing something similar in the Naples library. The beauty of it this year is one of our patrons had inherited a tub full of flea market jewelry to donate to the shop. Most of the items in the store are donated by patrons of the library staff. Some items are bought new by our patrons and given to the store. They bring them in all year long for this,” she said. “We have children come in and shop for Christmas gifts for their parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, and family. We had one little guy come in and buy shiny earrings for his dad. I asked him if his dad had pierced ears, and he was so matter of fact about it. He told me his father had pierced ears, and he wanted to get him these earrings for Christmas. They are so funny when they are in there picking things out, and they give you the whole story as to why they want that gift.”

“Another thing we do here is wrap up the gifts for them. They get all wide eyed when we wrap up the gifts, and place them in a bag with name tags on them. They are always so excited,” Schuler continued. “Right now, they are still in the giving spirit. They are at that age where they just want to make whoever is getting that gift very happy. They want mom, dad, and grandma to be happy on Christmas. If we could all get back to that simple giving spirit again this world would be a much better place.”

Sophaia Levinson has been coming to listen to Santa Claus her whole life. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Schuler added that once a year she captures the moments with Santa Claus and her grandson, Colton Welch. It is a very special time for her to watch these children all grow.

“This is the community center in our little town. This is all they have in the community. I would rather the kids be in here playing games and reading books then out there alone and in trouble,” Schuler said. “I want to give these kids some place to go that is safe and warm. It is always interesting to see how the different ages interact with one another too. I love all of these kids for different reasons. They all have something special about them.”

The local community center/library is open Monday and Tueday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Wednesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m for the winter months. They can be reached at 585-534-5030.

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