‘Every year is a great year’

Ben Robinson/Courier

Buddy Cox inspects some of the toys in Country Santa’s workshop, next to his Pumpkintown home.

Country Santa ready for 35th season delivering gifts

By Ben Robinson

Courier Staff

PUMPKINTOWN — On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Pumpkintown’s Buddy Cox takes time to blow the leaves from his quarter-mile driveway as his wife Nelle puts up a few holiday decorations. They are enjoying this time of relaxation before the busy Christmas season arrives and transforms their home into the headquarters for Country Santa.

A poor youth growing up in Cross Hill, Cox had his father walk out on the family when he was 10, leaving Buddy, his mother and two older sisters to struggle together. Although he grew up to become an engineer, Cox never forgot how his mother had struggled each Christmas to provide presents for Buddy and his sisters. He realized that many families were facing similar situations today.

“Parents can hurt when they cannot give their kids something,” Cox said.

It started with just one 10-year-old girl for whom Buddy bought a new doll for Christmas. The next year, he provided presents for 10 children. The organization grew, with Cox and his “elves” delivering to 1,200 children by the late 1980s. Last year Country Santa provided for 3,400 children. Cox says that will be the extent of Country Santa’s growth, but don’t expect him to turn kids who need love away.

Each bag includes a tag which reads, “with love from Jesus and Country Santa.”

The stories from Country Santa are endless. Last year a young woman whose husband passed away during the year voiced her concerns about being able to provide gifts for her 11-year-old daughter. Cox was able to tell the woman “Don’t worry about it,” with confidence, knowing Country Santa would take care of her daughter for Christmas.

Cox does not take the efforts of his many volunteers lightly. There are several core helpers who are there seven days a week. Then many church groups, school groups, and groups from other civic organizations help out.

After 35 years of helping people, Cox now has a few third-generation workers. Others are people whom Country Santa has helped over the years.

“You don’t look back and think of the time,” Cox said. “Every year is a good year. We have got many great volunteers who we look forward to seeing every year.”

Each year Cox is amazed at how so many people can come together to work to serve children.

“They believe in what we do,” Cox observed.

Delivery day is Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. No one is actually invited. Hundreds simply show up at Country Santa’s workshop and pick up bags of toys to deliver.

There are always new adventures and new heartwarming stories each Christmas. Cox and his volunteers are ready to face the challenge of another Christmas.