JacksonSometimes Santa leaves his sleigh and makes his rounds in a Salvation Army van instead.

At least that’s what happened for a single mom and her two young sons last Christmas. After Carolyn’s husband died unexpectedly, she was left alone with 7-year-old Jeffrey and 4-year-old Jackson. They had to move in with friends after Carolyn struggled to find a job and fell behind on rent.

Carolyn was too embarrassed to ask for help. But a concerned neighbor wrote an anonymous letter to The Salvation Army, explaining that without their help, the boys would have no Christmas presents. The Army’s local branch immediately launched into action.

The letter didn’t say how old the boys were, so they just rounded up what was available — a small bike, a football, a couple of board games, a remote control truck, and some clothes. When The Salvation Army delivered the items, Carolyn was suspicious, asking, “Who are you?” and “What’s this about?” The Army rep said they simply wanted to help, and then opened the van doors to reveal the toys inside.

Carolyn began to cry, saying she had told her sons that Santa wouldn’t be coming this year. Jackson, the 4-year-old, saw the toys and said, “I told you Santa would still come!”

Once all the gifts were inside their house, Jackson hugged the Army volunteer and said, “Tell Santa I said thank you . . . because I know that you know him.”

Carolyn and her sons thank you, too, for being Santa — and the love of God — for many hurting families at Christmas and all year round.