Residents of all ages flocked Wednesday evening to the Christmas tree in downtown Hamilton to reverse a holiday tradition: They were the ones giving toys to Santa.
That Santa Claus was John Drury, a 6-foot-7, 350-pound man best known as “The Dancing Trucker” for his dance moves performed in front of the Historic Butler County Courthouse.
In the spirit of the season, Drury is collecting toys to be donated to children in need through St. Vincent de Paul’s Angels for Toys program.
After collecting more than 30 toys earlier in the week, Drury said he was hoping for a warm response Wednesday evening from the Hamilton community.
But as residents continued to show up with toys in hand, his bags overflowed with donations.
“Look at how Hamilton has turned out tonight,” Drury said, while dancing and drawing smiles from the crowd. “All of these toys are going to needy children. Thank you Hamilton, Ohio. All of these people in this beautiful city took time out to drop off a toy. I am really touched. They are all angels tonight.”
Drury estimated 100 toys were donated in just a few hours.
“There are a lot of people in Hamilton that are struggling right now and they might not have the money to give a toy, but they do give a smile,” he said. “It is a win-win either way.”
Rhonda Songer from the Taken it 2 the Streets Outreach Ministry that also works to help the less fortunate, said it made her happy to see Drury do the toy drive.
“It touched my heart and we love what he’s doing and can’t believe this many people have come out to donate toys,” she said. “It is amazing, and (Drury) puts that joy out there. He’s selfless and this is awesome.”
Her husband, Doug Songer, also part of the outreach ministry, said it is good to see the city’s residents have such benevolent hearts and the mindset of “paying it forward.”
Resident Dan Compston was one of those who brought a donation Wednesday evening to Drury’s cause. He said the Christmas spirit is strong this year.
“People are saying Merry Christmas instead of happy holidays,” he said. “You can tell the Christmas spirit is strong.”
Gloria Claxton of Hamilton also brought toys out to donate. She said earlier photos of Drury with just a couple of toys in his tote motivated her to take to social media to stir up some attention for his cause.
“We saw a picture and he only had two toys so I posted on Facebook to family and friends to bring toys out,” Claxton said. “In my post I said we want to fill his tote, and we did a great job of doing that.”