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2017 Santa Cause

Yes, Buffalo. There is a Santa Claus, or rather, a Santa Cause.

Brother’s Mark and Darrell Porter began a family tradition about 4 years ago when they found a way to make the holidays a bit more bright. It began with a visit to their sister’s students at Stanley Makowski Early Childhood Center in Buffalo. “Along with our guitar, we bought crayons and coloring books for the 18 young students,” Mark said.  

Over the years, the program has become more official, and is now called, “Santa Cause.”  They have gone from helping 18 students four years ago to 126 kids in 2017. The guitar has been replaced by a shiny new Santa Suit, and the crayons and coloring books have become board games, small toys, along with hats and gloves.

Mark thanks the generosity of his co-workers and a company that they work with, “Arrow Electronics” for helping him raise over $1,500 in less than 24 hours this year. All the funds go towards buy gifts and clothing. Gifts for the children will be delivered, personally, by Santa to the classroom. 

“Santa will be visiting 126 four year olds from the inner city Friday morning – many who will not be celebrating Christmas like most of will be.” Mark said, “For those that have asked, we gladly welcome any/all donations via paypal ( send via friends/family so no surcharge). In exchange – I promise you HUGE smiles from many little kids and will forward a group picture to your inbox before Christmas morning.”

But apparently Santa doesn’t stop there, after he’s made his Friday delivery, any additional funds will be used to buy as many nice warm blankets as possible for people in the City of Buffalo who are homeless. Mark, his girlfriend Julie, and his 14 year old son Marky, intend to take their F-150 sleigh to deliver the gifts in person. Porter says any size donation would be greatly appreciated and your generosity will help put a smile on someone’s face this holiday season.

“He’s one of the most selfless people I know,” said Kayla Porter, daughter. “He’s the same person who will get free tickets to a concert he’s already attending and pick someone from the back of the lawn and upgrade them to better seats. He still decorates the house for every birthday, streamers and all. He’s honestly the best person I’ve ever known. He’s the backbone of our family. Anything he can do to make someone happy, he will.”

This year, they received a special request to make someone’s year a little more merry and bright. Jill, age 27, has Downs Syndrome. Two months ago, Jill suffered a stroke, that will keep her hospitalized through the holidays:

I was contacted by an individual who found my “services” via a Facebook post that I made public a few weeks ago, offering free visits to those in need of some real Christmas cheer. When speaking with the family prior to my visit, I was told that she is a huge believer in Santa, loves unicorns, and has a 5 year old niece and 8 year old nephew, who will also be attending that afternoon.

Upon arriving at Buffalo General hospital, (I parked my reindeer on the hospital roof and made my way down the elevator shaft to the 5th floor) I strolled down the hallway with my shiny golden bell ringing loudly and “ho, ho, ho’s” echoing off the hallway walls – Jill’s eyes met mine as I entered the room, where the first of many smiles made way across her face. A big hug and a kiss on her cheek started off the visit, and I sat directly across the table from her – her eyes never leaving my face for a minute. The visit was relatively short – but we crammed a lifetime worth of Christmas cheer into the visit. Santa sang Jingle bells with the little ones and recited ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Next, as Santa often does, he asked seriously, “Have you been a good girl this year, Jill?” Jill responded with a resounding, “Yesssss Saaaanta!” Digging deep into my toy sack, I presented Jill with a beautifully colored unicorn, along with a little angel bear which she immediately hugged and kissed – all the while smiling from ear to ear.

Unknown to Santa Mark at the time, those were the first words Jill had spoken in almost 2 months.

“The look on her face when Santa walked through the door is a look I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.” Mark said, “Her family told me afterwards that they sobbed uncontrollably with joy. Jill hasn’t stopped smiling since Santa left.”

A friend of Buffalo Rising’s reached out this week to introduce us to Mark, to tell us of his heartwarming deeds. As for Mark, all he asks is that “each and every one of you to reach out to someone this Holiday Season – an old friend who may be in a bad place, a relative who may be spending the holidays alone, your next door neighbor who would do anything for 30 minutes of conversation. Do what makes you feel good – that will not only make another person smile – but will make your heart smile. Life is too short – we’re all too busy – and it’s never too late to make a difference in another person’s life – especially around the holidays.”

If you would like to make a donation to the 2017 Santa Cause, which will be used to purchase gloves, hats, and blankets for the homeless in the city of Buffalo, you may do so via paypal to (check friends/family option).

As for Santa Mark, he says, “Merry Christmas to all – and to all a good night!”

May the joy and wonder of this holiday season remain with you always.
Merry Christmas, Buffalo.

Written by Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli is a WNY native, born and raised in the Lincoln Park area of Tonawanda. She has been involved in local politics from an early age and is currently a Tonawanda Democratic Committee Member. As an avid equestrian and animal-lover, she trained and re-homed over 40 horses. For over a decade, she was an event planner with the law firm, Hodgson Russ LLP, and now owns her own marketing and event management company. She has worked with international and national organizations on large and small scale events. Jessica writes on politics and local events, as well as working with Buffalo Rising as a social reporter.

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