Tommy Tumblin works as a custodian at Lander University and, once a year, he steps into character as a Santa's helper nicknamed "Tommy Claus," brightening Christmas for many hundreds of needy children in the Greenwood area.
Tumblin learned recently that his annual quest to obtain toys will receive a large infusion of cash thanks to Lander's College of Business and Public Affairs (COBPA).
COBPA is in the middle of class challenge whose goal is to raise $5,000 for Tumblin to use to purchase toys for his holiday giveaway. The challenge will end on Nov. 18.
Interim dean Dr. Doug Grider said, "We are not asking students to make personal contributions but to come up with creative class projects to raise money." He added, "This is a community service 'give back activity' to engage our students especially during an economically difficult time for many Greenwood families."
Grider said there are 95 individual classes in Lander's COBPA with an enrollment of about 700 students. "If each student raises $8, we will reach our goal and it will make a significant difference for the children."
Students in the three classes who raise the most money will be recognized with their choice of a pizza party or some other celebration treat.
Over the years, Tumblin's efforts have won the support of Lander students and faculty who place toys and games in Tommy Claus donation boxes on campus. He also receives support from businesses, organizations and individuals in the community.
Every Christmas season, he dons Santa's famous red suit, hat and snowy white beard, and transforms himself into the lovable Tommy Claus making appearances on campus and throughout the region bringing holiday cheer to children and adults alike.
In each of the last eight years, he has been able to provide toys and other gifts to 400 children. Tumblin's eyes fill with tears when he describes his gift-giving mission as a personal blessing. "It's all about sharing the spirit of Christmas," he says.
When the yuletide season is over and Tommy Claus' sack is empty, he and his family turn their attention to plans for acquiring toys and games that he will give away when the Christmas season rolls around the following year.