DAYTON, Ohio – If you think your to-do list is filling up fast this holiday season, put yourself in Santa’s boots. The jolly old elf set a good example for planning ahead and precious gift-giving when he stopped by the Dayton Community Blood Center Tuesday, Dec. 5 to make a blood donation.
For the other 11 months of the year “Santa” is Centerville donor Bill Morgan. He’s a regular platelet donor at the Dayton CBC and his Tuesday visit marked his 169th lifetime donation. Bill is also a retired IT manager and professional Santa who still dons the red suit at Christmas time to benefit local charities.
His rounds usually include a donation in costume at CBC to celebrate the season with donors, and to remind everyone to make time during the busy holiday season to give the gift of life.
Bill is an Indianapolis native who moved to the Miami Valley with his wife Bonnie to become Development Manager at LexisNexis. He had a natural white beard and just needed some extra padding to transform into a professional Santa Claus. He debuted in 2000 at Springfield’s Upper Valley Mall.
“They brought in live reindeer and put me on a sled behind the back of the mall with a bunch of people dressed as elves,” he said about his grand entrance. “Just as we began to move it started snowing, and it was really snowing. By the time we got into the mall the sled was covered with snow. As soon as we got in the mall, it stopped. It couldn’t have been more perfect.”
His wife Bonnie worked at his side, a perfect “Mrs. Claus” with her white bun and just 4-foot, 9-inches tall.
“We would go to the mall and the kids who were afraid of Santa had no problem with having their picture taken with her,” Bill said. “She would laugh and say, ‘This is tough work! You dress up and people shove babies in your arms. You can’t beat it!’ My wife was a sucker for babies.”
Bill and Bonnie gave up the mall to focus on charity appearances. It was rewarding, but also challenging. “My wife and I used to visit Dayton Children’s,” he said. “The families were going through so much with a sick child. We really needed each other afterwards to build ourselves back up.”
Bill lost his Mrs. Claus when Bonnie passed way in 2010. They were married 41 years and had two daughters and three grandsons. “My wife was a great hugger,” he said. “Everybody wanted to hug Mrs. Clause.”
It was around that time that Bill became an apheresis donor and Tuesday’s donation was his eighth of the year. With jolly optimism he continues playing Santa. When his natural beard thinned, he had a special wig and beard made from human hair.
Santa also has a Mrs. Claus again. Bill met his new wife Evelyn in Granville and they were married in July of 2016.
This season he will again visit Miami Valley Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to cheer up families. He will still be Santa for the holiday party at UES, Inc., a government contractor in Beavercreek. His fee from UES pays for the toys he donates every year to the St. Vincent de Paul Family Shelter. With Evelyn at his side as Mrs. Claus, he will deliver them to the shelter on Christmas morning.
“Anything seems to excite them,” he said about the happy children. “They have a good Christmas morning, and when they’re playing with their toys, Santa sneaks out.”