“Elf before self” is the motto of Ernest Berger, 70, the founder of Santa-America, a network of more than 200 selfless Santas, Mrs. Clauses, and Elves in 44 states and six foreign countries who volunteer at hospice facilities, hospitals, military units, and visit children and adults with autism and other special needs.
This year, as an active Santa himself, he is personally championing healthy eating habits, after having lost 30 pounds in the last year. He encourages Santas to ditch the extra stomach padding to set a good example for the youngsters. And when children ask Berger what kind of cookies they should leave out for him on Christmas Eve, he says, “If you’re going to leave something for me, please leave some almond milk. And I would really like some fruit. It really helps me as I am climbing up and down the chimney. Just cut up an apple for me.”
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