“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”
– Excerpt from an editorial in the New York Sun, 1897, in response to child’s letter about the existence of Santa Claus.
On Christmas Eve, a doorbell will ring at a home in the Mon Valley area, and an excited child who can barely sleep in anticipation of Christmas morning will jump off their couch and curiosity will get the best of them as they peek out the window to see if maybe, just maybe Santa Claus is coming to the front door instead of down the chimney.
As mom answers the door, they will peer around her and their eyes will widen as they can’t believe who they see standing on their porch. No, it’s not Santa Claus, but it might as well be. Standing in front of them will be Charlie Batch, holding not just a sack of toys, but the dreams of what Christmas morning is made of.
“Sometimes the kids are excited because I am knocking on their door,” said Batch. “When you see their face on Christmas Eve you are like, ‘Wow, this is what it’s about,’”
Batch gets nothing but joy as he tells the kids that Santa asked him to help deliver the toys, bringing happiness to those who might otherwise go without the simple pleasure of a toy on Christmas morning. And it warms his heart when he sees the tears flowing from a grateful mother who might not otherwise be able to provide for their kids.
Batch is as excited about this Christmas Eve as the kids, so anxious to go out and deliver the toys for the sixth straight year, many of them donated by Steelers’ fan at the annual “Batch of Toys” drive, held at Dave & Buster’s at the Waterfront on Tuesday. Batch and his teammates signed autographs for those who brought toys.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Batch of the support he gets. “This time of year is always special for me. So many people support it, fans believe in what we are doing. We even have wrapping parties and everyone comes over and wraps them.”
The toys will be shared with local women’s shelters, the Salvation Army, UPMC Children’s Hospital AIDS patients, Pittsburgh Housing Authority, McKee Temple and families in the Mon Valley and Allegheny County that Batch will visit on Christmas Eve.
“When you are able to go out and see the expressions on a kid’s face when you are out there delivering the presents, no matter if it’s Christmas Eve or going to women’s shelters or Salvation Army, it’s something that gets me,” said Batch
Batch collects toys throughout the month of December through the Best of the Batch Foundation, combining them with his own donations to help those who are struggling during the holiday season.
“There is so much need for it throughout the year which people just don’t know,” said Batch. “You don’t hear all of the stories. For us to go out and do our small part…we are just trying to make a difference.”
The letters that Batch receives in the days, weeks and months after Christmas are proof that he is making a difference, filled with thanks, love and gratitude. Knowing what it means to so many makes him so excited to do it again.
“I am ready to drive the sleigh,” said Batch. “I am already looking forward to it.
“When I think of this time of year, I enjoy putting on the Santa hat, going out and delivering the toys. That is what it’s all about.”
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. In this case he might wear black and gold instead of a red suit, but it doesn’t matter. He makes you a believer.