Santa warms hearts of Ahoskie House residents

Published 5:11 pm Saturday, December 13, 2008

AHOSKIE – You’re never too old to receive a gift, or a hug, from Santa Claus.

Dressed in the traditional attire of the Jolly Old Elf from the North Pole, Yates Miller filled in for Santa here Thursday afternoon where he paid a visit to the residents of the Ahoskie House, an assisted living home located on Loftin Lane.

Judging by the broad smiles on the faces of those Ahoskie House residents, they were pleased to have Santa drop on a windy and wet morning.

“It was very interesting to see all those smiling faces,” said Miller, an Ahoskie native now living in Arlington, Va. where he retired after teaching art classes for 25 years at the junior high school level.

Normally, Miller would stop and say hello and greet those that he personally knew during his trips home to visit with his 92-year-old mother, Edrie Williams Miller, a resident at the Ahoskie House.

“Today was different,” Miller said. “I got a chance to say more than just hello. I got a chance to warm their hearts by dressing up in a red Santa suit.”

The unwrapped gifts that he passed out were donated by his many friends in the Arlington area.

“Actually, they are gifts I began collecting to use as prizes at the many Bingo sessions they have at the Ahoskie House,” he noted. “I sent out a letter asking for donations from my friends and the response was overwhelming. We had plenty of gifts, so many in fact that I decided to use them as Christmas gifts.”

Those gifts included a large assortment of stuffed animals (popular among the Ahoskie House residents) as well as toiletry items, jewelry, baseball caps, games, puzzles and even a few toys that the residents could give to their grandchildren.

“It’s good for the heart…theirs and mine,” Miller said. “It’s the best thing I’ve done in a while. It made me feel good and I hope it had the same impact on the residents…I hope it made them feel good.”

Even as Miller (now dressed in “street clothes”) was leaving, he found another reason to feel good about his act of kindness.

“There was a lady sitting up near the front door. She was wearing one of the necklaces I had just given out as a Christmas gift. I stopped and told her what a beautiful necklace it was. She responded by saying she has just received it from Santa Claus. That was a nice way to leave,” Miller concluded.

Miller, a 1964 graduate of Ahoskie High School, is also the son of the late Jesse Miller. He has lived in the Arlington, Va. area for the past 32 years. After retiring from the school system, he is now an estate jewelry dealer.