Who would steal from Santa? The better question is: Who would give Santa a gift?
Fernand Gautreau, a homeless “Santa Claus,” prefers the second question. Last week, Gautreau’s bag was stolen. Inside the bag were his clothes, his heavy blankets…and his Santa suit.
Gautreau, 64, has lived on the streets of Montcon, New Brunswick Canada, for about three years. He’s been battling alcoholism for decades. Each year around the holidays, kids and adults would look at Gautreau with his big white beard and say, “Santa is here.” Finally, Gatreau acquired and donned the red suit, bringing cheer to people on the streets.
“It’s my character, I like it, I like my soul, I like to make you happy.”
But one night last week, that all changed. While he was sleeping outside, thieves took all of his belongings. He was devastated. Word spread at the shelter where Gautreau ate. People were upset.
Enter some elves…and social media.
Gautreau shared his story with Aleisha MacPherson who posted his plight on the Moncton Pay It Forward Facebook page. And magic started happening.
Claude St. Coeur, of Shediac, saw the Facebook post, and he and his girlfriend, Sharon Leger, bought Gautreau some new clothes. They also dug St. Coeur’s Santa suit out of storage and gift-wrapped everything then delivered it all to Gautreau at the House of Nazareth homeless shelter.
When thieves took Gautreau’s belongings, friendly citizens came to the rescue.
”The joy in that gentleman’s face, it was just priceless. The feeling in his heart, you could tell — no money can buy that,” said St. Coeur.
“It feels marvelous,” Gautreau said.
Gautreau also received a new bike and a new cart from some of Santa’s other helpers. The kindness has inspired Gautreau to go to detox.
A new start for the New Year.