A pair of struggling Montco families will soon find themselves on the receiving end of a Christmas miracle, thanks to the efforts of 38-year-old Dutch Schrap, of East Coventry, who has decided to take his professional Santa routine to the next level.
The son of the elder Santa Schrap, Dutch has followed in his father's snow-covered footsteps for the past 21 years. He's made appearances everywhere from the Lansdale Mardi Gras Parade to gigs with the Philadelphia Flyers and Sixers, and he's even rung the opening bell at the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.
This year, however, he's looking to expand on his role by initiating Operation Nine Reindeer, which seeks to aid two families who are in desperate need of support.
It all began on October 1, when Schrap received a call from a client, asking if they could hire him to visit the home of a family in which the father had had been diagnosed with stage-four brain cancer.
"I told [the client] that she couldn’t hire me for something like that – we were going to do better," said Schrap. "Not only was I going to visit the family – anytime they needed me – but we were going to make Christmas for them this year extra special!"
Schrap said that he initially planned to pick up a few gifts and gift cards, but after bouncing some ideas off of his friends on Facebook, donations began to overwhelmingly pour in.
"What started as a simple home visit from Santa has snow-balled into a huge surprise visit from Santa with his bag overflowing with gifts and more," said Schrap. "I even received an email from a charitable organization in Utah, [stating that] they were helping with $500 cash. People that had no idea who I was, nor who the family was, were giving from their heart."
Overcome by the amount of support and donations made by local and non-local businesses and charities, Schrap's girlfriend, Jennifer, suggested that they name the mission "Operation Nine Reindeer", and expand to help an additional family this holiday season.
"We learned of the [second family] through a friend," said Schrap. "Since losing his wife to breast cancer in September, the father has been caring for all three of their children, and is overwhelmed by medical and funeral expenses. We need to help this family with their Christmas as well. "
Making the visits all the more magical is the fact that neither family knows that its coming. Schrap has gone to great lengths to ensure the element of surprise is maintained, but on November 30, and again in the middle of December, two families will open the door to see a real life Santa bearing assorted gifts and presents.
How You Can Help
Schrap is still preparing for the visits, as well as looking to expand the mission for next year. For those who wish to donate items or become involved, you may visit Operation Nine Reindeer on Facebook, or contact Dutch directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has lists of items still needed for both families, and he added that he's more than glad to pick up any items that people may wish to donate.
Patch deliberately left out some identifying information from the families who will be receiving the gifts, in an effort to preserve the surprise. Our editors will be on the scene as the donations are made, so stay tuned for updates and reactions, including recaps, photos and video.