To the Editor:
Approximately 20 years ago, members of Santa Claus’s Yacht Club entered the lives of many families who reside in the city of Alexandria. The members provided families with food, gift cards, goods, services and monetary donations. They assisted shelter families who graduated to self-subsistence, provided uniforms for school children, and aided individuals befallen by disaster and tragedy. Over the years the following organizations have benefited from their services: Adopt A Family (Christmas), Alexandria Police Association, Alive, Child and Family Center, Hurricane Katrina Fund, Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, Lombardi Cancer Center, Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy, Matthew Maury Elementary School, National Minority Junior Golf, Scholarship Association, Police Youth Camp, Saint Colleta School, Saint Patrick Foundation, Special Olympics, Susan G. Komen National Race for the Cure, The Rocky Versace Memorial Fund and V Foundation for Cancer.
The members of Santa Claus’s Yacht Club willingly gave of themselves and actively supported the community and its children. The members placed their talents at our disposal and demonstrated their commitment to help others. Over the years, Santa Claus’s Yacht Club generously made contributions of over $400,000.
I first met members of Santa Claus’s Yacht Club after member, Harry Francis Klein, approached me (then principal of Lyles-Crouch Elementary School) about forming an educational partnership with the school. I was elated with the idea and welcomed Mr. Klein and members of the club with open arms. The union of Santa Claus’s Yacht Club with Lyles-Crouch Elementary School certainly made a difference in the lives of families. The smiles and words of encouragement were exactly what were needed to help turn things around for our families.
In 2004, I became the principal of Matthew Maury Elementary School. Just when I thought our partnership had ended, Gary Heinzmann, Santa Claus’s Yacht Club member, contacted me to state that the club wished to expand the partnership. I was indeed ecstatic. The partnership helped the school in immeasurable ways and we appreciated the difference the club made in the lives of our families.
On Dec. 13, 2012, a meeting was held with Gary Heinzmann. It was at this time that he informed me that the club would be dissolving. Although this news was something I did not want to hear, I respected the decision of the group and with heartfelt understanding accepted what was inevitable. It was at this time that Mr. Heinzmann presented me with a check for $24,000 to be utilized at my discretion for the school. The school is extremely grateful for this!
It’s a comfort to know there are heroes among us — regular people, just like the members of Santa Claus’s Yacht Club, willing to do what they can to make the world a better place. Heroes give instead of take. They step forward and perform hard and unseen jobs, to give the best of themselves — measuring their own success, not by wealth or comfort, but by the lives they touch along the way. That’s what heroes do. Santa Claus’s Yacht Club are those people. Maybe they don’t think of themselves that way, but that’s what they are.
On behalf of Matthew Maury Elementary School, Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy and families and organizations in the city of Alexandria, I want everyone to know that we appreciated the club and their generosity. We are grateful to have had an opportunity to know and work with them and to know that there are heroes like them in the world.
Thank you very much: Mark Allen, Rick Baker, Bill Baptiste, Bob Bennett, Rob Blumel, Larry Bory, Brad Bradford, Paul Brisgone, Hunt E. Burke, John Burke, Keith Burner, Jeremy Burnham, Thomas W. Carroll, Rick Casey, Billy Coombs, Michael Cranston, Merle Delancey, Jim Devine, Dan H. Droze Jr., Tom Dunn, Greg Dunshaw, Pete Eldridge, David Elsber, Mike Faber,
Frank Fannon IV, Mark Flatt, Steve Forehand, Arthur Fox, Jim Frazier, Robert K. Fuegel, Tim Geary, Mike Gibson, Steven Green, Robin Grover, Mike Guiffre, John Hiller, Gary Heinzmann, Al Himes, Miles Holtzman, Ben Hord, Jonathan Hudgins, Randolph Huggins, Tom Hulfish, Jerome Javier, Earl Johnson, Harry Kabel, John Keegan, Richard Kenefick, Irv Koniak, Franco Landini, David Lavoie, Lonnie Marchant, Peter Moll, Page Moon, Janice Mosher, Daryl Mull, Steven Pace, Liz Pennell, Mark Poskaitis, Richard Pritchard, Paul Rapchak, Bill Ross, Dan Rowe, Shaun Sheehan, Greg Shiner, Bob Steventon,
Pat Stover, Pat Sweet, Townsend Van Fleet, Drew Von Bergen, Scott Ward, Pat Willson, Glenn Witucki, Doug Wood and Bob Yakely.
Lucretia M. Jackson, Principal
and the Matthew Maury Elementary School Staff