M2: Christmas comes early for Craig’s own Santa, Mrs. Claus

George and Ann Kidder honored as Moffat County United Way volunteers of the year

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Moffat County government board volunteers with more than 10 years of service…

• Bonnie Villard — Cemetery Board (1993) and Museum of Northwest Colorado Board (1998)

• Owen Grant — Cemetery Board (1978)

• Neil Folks — Area Council on Aging (2003)

• Karl Huntsman — Fair Board (1990)

• Al Shepherd — 14th Judicial District Community Corrections Board (1984)

• Phyllis Myers — Hamilton Community Center Board (1990)

• Don Myers — TMH Board (1992)

• Jean Stetson — Land Use Board (2000)

• Dottie Petrini-Kossar — Maybell Community Center Board (1996)

• Charlene Scott — Maybell Community Center Board (1996)

• Ken White — Maybell Community Center Board (2001)

• Wilma Taylor-Baker — Museum of Northwest Colorado (1994)

• Barbara Baker — Museum of Northwest Colorado (1988)

• Delaine Voloshin — Museum of Northwest Colorado (1984)

Quotable...

“I appreciate volunteers because they mean a lot to me. Our community would be a totally different place without people like Ann and George, and our local government wouldn’t be able to function without the contributions of so many people to our county boards.”

Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe about George and Ann Kidder being recognized as the Moffat County United Way’s Volunteers of the Year.

— For a short period of time each year, the entire country undergoes an almost magical transformation.

The Christmas season evokes a spirit of brotherhood, and people everywhere find themselves smiling easier, laughing louder and spending more time in the service of others.

A big reason for that transformation is the sight of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Since 1997, George and Ann Kidder, otherwise known as Craig’s own Santa and Mrs. Claus, have generously donated their time to help children of all ages embrace the spirit of Christmas.

The Kidders annually participate in dozens of engagements during the holiday season, including appearances at Horizons Specialized Services, the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, the KRAI Holiday Drive, Colowyo Christmas, Sandrock Ridge Care & Rehab, Sunrise Daycare and the Craig, Rifle and Mesquite, Nev., holiday parades.

For their years of dedication, the Kidders were honored this month as the Moffat County United Way’s 2012 Volunteers of the Year.

“I appreciate volunteers because they mean a lot to me,” said Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe, who presented the award. “Our community would be a totally different place without people like Ann and George, and our local government wouldn’t be able to function without the contributions of so many people to our county boards.”

The Kidders’ dedication to volunteering is especially noteworthy because they contribute so many hours during one of their busiest times of the year. The Kidders run a trucking business and own a contract with the U.S. Postal Service to haul mail from Grand Junction to Hayden.

Coincidentally, it was the mail-hauling business that not only brought the Kidders together — they met 29 years ago on the docks of a USPS distribution center in Orlando — but also inspired George’s future as Old St. Nick.

“The whole thing started out as a lark,” George said. “During the holidays I started growing my beard and wearing red. I even started putting deer horns and a red Nerf ball on my truck. I figured if I’m going to be old and fat and gray, I might as well have fun.”

Whether or not it was a ruse, George’s recognition around Orlando earned him his first official Santa gig at a local high school where he distributed presents to children of needy families. From there “it kind of took off,” he said.

Though Ann didn’t join the act until 1997, when the couple moved to Craig, she said it’s an annual experience that continues to affect her life.

“We didn’t start doing this for the recognition,” Ann said. “We do this for the kids and I don’t think anything blows me away more than to hear laughter or to see a smile on a child’s face.”

And the couple promises they have no intention of slowing down.

“I have a lot of fun with the kids, and I have a lot of fun with the kids at heart, too,” George said. “As long as the kids believe, we’ll keep doing it.”

Joe Moylan can be reached at 970-875-1794 or jmoylan@CraigDailyPress.com

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