GRAFTON, Mass. – Santa arrived dramatically Saturday at the first Jingle Bell Run at the Grafton High School track, and promptly threw traditionalists a curve.
When Santa stepped out of the state police cruiser, which arrived with sirens blaring and blue lights flashing, he greeted the crowd and, with red sack in hand, collected presents from the children to be donated to various charity.
It was a reverse gift-giving moment.
"It is never too early to teach our children the value of giving," said Nancy Cooper, one of the organizers said to the crowd.
Approximately 150 supporters and their children arrived, many dressed in red stocking caps and sleigh bell jewelry, and ran, walked or were pushed by stroller around a track covered in snow to cap off the day.
The event, coordinated by Cooper, Kerry Leonard, and Carrie Bussewitz, was to benefit the Home For Little Wanderers, Room to Grow, Horizons for Homeless Children and the West End House Boys and Girls Club.
Each participant brought one unwrapped gift to be donated to the children of these nonprofit organizations.
Children also crafted homemade Christmas cards to be given with the presents, and lent a hand in gift wrapping before heading to the track for their half- or one-mile jaunt.
"The other benefit of this get together is to promote healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle," Cooper said.