BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – Salvage Santa is back in the workshop repairing bikes and toys to give to less fortunate children for Christmas.
Mike Jones has taken on the role of Salvage Santa for over four decades now, and he said he has no plans of stopping.
Jones said this all started as a football game between the Panama City Police Department and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office called the Fuzz Bowl.
The proceeds from the game went towards buying children’s toys.
When the event stopped, the sheriff’s office started Project 25, and Jones decided to become Salvage Santa.
He said he is beyond grateful his hobby turned good deed has been so well received all these years.
“I couldn’t do it without the help of Bay County,” Jones said. “All of these bicycles you see here and all the bicycles that come here are donated by the citizens of Bay County and some surrounding counties as well. This is my hobby, this is what I do. When I’m at home and have nothing else to do, I build bicycles and toys and we have a great time and we got some really good organizations that distribute the toys for us.”
Organizations involved with the project include the Knights of Pythias, the Glenwood Center, and Early Education and Care.
Jones said the organizations will be distributing the toys themselves this year instead of the traditional big group giveaway due to COVID-19 concerns.
“Oh my goodness, just the word of Salvage Santa to our children to our parents to our teachers,” Headstart Director for Early Education and Care Janice Flowers, said. “He is well known in this community. We have been working with Mike now for over 45-46 years and every year it gets larger and larger. The toys that he provides to our children. Some of them definitely would never have the opportunity to receive the toys that they receive every year.”
The distribution days at Early Education and Care this year are December 14th and 15th.
“To see the joy on their faces — I mean Christmas is the most spectacular time of the year,” Jones said. “We don’t want to forget why we have Christmas. But the kids and their gifts and their toys and the joy that it brings to the families. It warms my heart.”
You can find more information about how to donate here.