Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jolly Old St. Nicholas, Standing 6-Foot-4, Pays Visits to Schools

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jolly Old St. Nicholas, Standing 6-Foot-4, Pays Visits to Schools

Article excerpt


It was the sneakers peeking out from the flowing green robe trimmed in white fur that got their attention.

The candy canes entwined in the shoelaces only added to the surprise.

"Hey, Santa, why are you wearing funny shoes?" asked a second-grader.

"You made me smile," said another.

"You have candy canes on your shoes," one intrigued little boy said.

St. Nicholas, all 6-foot-4 of him, walked from classroom to classroom at Southside Estates Elementary School last week, handing out multicolored "kindness coins."

"Remember, this is about giving and kindness," said St. Nicholas, aka David Pillsbury, president of Golf Course Properties for the PGA Tour.

About 540 students at the Ivey Road school received the coins as part of Volunteer Jacksonville's annual "A Visit from St. Nicholas" to promote literacy and a giving spirit.

When they walked into their classrooms, students in grades K-2 found brightly colored backpacks filled with toys and books on their desks. Students in grades 3-5 received wrapped packages containing three books and two toys. After students opened their gifts, PGA volunteers read The Generosity of St. Nicholas in each class.

Southside Estates was one of 14 elementary schools in Duval County and two in St. Johns selected for the visit because they have a high percentage of students on the free or reduced lunch program. More than 1,000 volunteers wrapped books, stuffed and distributed backpacks and decorated school hallways with gold tinsel.

Southside Estates Principal Patricia Latimer said the visit tied in to the school's character education program, in that the traits for December are kindness and caring.

"What a beautiful explanation this is of that," Latimer said.

Furthermore, she said, it will be the only presents that some of the children will receive. …

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