By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
One is more efficient when sorting presents, the other is a better gift wrapper, but twins Andrew and Nicholas Shafer are both equally enthused when it comes to making sure all kids receive a Christmas gift.
The 18-year-old seniors from La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor, Montgomery County, are entering their fourth consecutive year as volunteers with Operation Santa Claus, the annual children’s Christmas charity drive sponsored by the archdiocesan Office for Youth and Young Adults (OYYA).
“Think about how Christmas would be different if you woke up and didn’t have anything under the tree,” Nick said.
Members of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Parish in North Wales, Montgomery County – and 2007 alums of the parochial school there – Drew and Nick are the sons of Frank and Kathleen Shafer. They have two younger brothers, Patrick, 15, a sophomore at La Salle High and Matthew, 12, a seventh-grader at Mary, Mother of the Redeemer School.
Both Eagle Scouts, Drew and Nick do their best to put in practice, 365 days of the year, their high school motto: “Boys will be boys, but La Salle boys will be gentlemen.”
“We’ve always had a nice Christmas and we really want other kids to experience the joy of Christmas – that magical feeling – and looking forward to Santa,” Drew said. “It’s an important part of childhood.”
As a boy, Nick bragged that his namesake was St. Nicholas. Still, he took no chances with the man in the red suit. “You knew Santa was coming; you were on your best behavior,” he said. “Everyone,” Nick said, “was happy.”
“Those are some of my favorite memories as a child. I just want to make sure that every boy and girl can make those same kinds of memories. To be deprived of those memories would be tragic.”
The real meaning of Christmas is not lost on them. “As great as getting presents on Christmas is, we have to remember that Christmas started as God giving Jesus to us,” Nick said.
Both Drew and Nick are presently immersed in ribbons and scissors, reams of wrapping paper and rolls of tape at the official headquarters of Operation Santa Claus.
The goal of the drive, now in its 43rd year, is 16,000 toys for girls and boys throughout the Archdiocese who might otherwise go without receiving a single toy at Christmas.
Which brother is the most efficient sorter of presents? According to Drew: Drew. The best at gift-wrapping? According to Drew and Nick: Nick.
Volunteers are needed from now until Dec. 24 to collect, sort, wrap, bag and deliver the toys to 700 families on Christmas Eve.
“Operation Santa Claus is a unique service opportunity,” Nick said. “Just to see the joy on the kids’ faces is the best present ever.”
For more information about Operation Santa Claus, visit www.oyya.org.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.