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GIVING BACK: “Santa” Gets Surprised After Fire

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This is a story about the Christmas spirit. Not the feeling we get around the holidays that quickly fades away...but the spirit that lasts past December 26th and makes us want to give a little more. Be a little kinder.

But to understand what brought us here, we have to take you back in time.

What started out as fixing a toy tractor for a needy child for Christmas 50-years ago has turned into a lifetime labor of love for Vincent Else and his wife, Judy. The Elses, who live in Nodaway, now work year round, collecting and fixing up old toys to give to needy children for Christmas. Last year alone, the quiet couple from a small town gave away thousands of toys to needy children.

But just before last Christmas, the Else's tiny workshop burned down because of a faulty heater. All of the toys that were supposed to be fixed up for children this year were destroyed. And the Else's figured their days of fulfilling children's Christmas wishes were over.

That's where the Christmas spirit comes in. When our story aired, the folks at Lifepoint Dental in Ankeny decided to help.

"We heard the story on WHO and we thought we had such a great opportunity with the patient numbers that we have here in central Iowa that we could just allow them to help." says Lifepoint president Aaron Blass.

So they collected toys. Lots of toys. So many, they had to borrow a truck from Eisenlauer Realty in Pleasant Hill to deliver them to the Elses. We were there when they gave the man who has surprised so many children...a surprise of his own. "We've been collecting toys for you and your wife over the past month and central Iowa has really responded well." Blass told Else, "And so we've got a truck full of toys for ya."

For someone who has dedicated his whole life to giving to others...this is a little overwhelming. "It's hard for me to believe I'm on the wrong end. I've always been the one giving. And I just can't believe how many people been donating." Else says, "I am excited excited about it because I get to do something to help those kids."