Skip to content

Official Santa's Helper speaks at Rotary Club of Carlisle Sunrise

Carlisle, PA – On Tuesday, November 15, local resident Jim Griffith will talk about his experiences attending the nonprofit Charles W. Howard Santa School in Midland, Michigan this past September. Founded in 1938 and widely known as the “Harvard of Santa Schools”, the school attracts students who range from beginners to professionals working for Macy’s, Disney, and Hollywood productions. One student even came from Jerusalem, where he rides a camel and receives 20,000 visitors each year.

For Jim, inspiration to attend the school began with community involvement. Jim has supported many local nonprofit organizations by bringing holiday magic. It was at a Carlisle Borough Police event last year at Safe Harbor that Jim found his inspiration to attend the Charles W. Howard School. As Santa handed a young child a present, she happily said that “She didn’t deserve so many presents”. It really touched Jim’s heart. That evening, he searched online for a program that would teach him how to provide the absolute best Santa Claus experience to all future underserved children whom he might meet. That led to learning about the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School, and his decision to apply and attend.
In September, Jim and his wife Karen drove to Midland, Michigan from Carlisle. Before attending the opening session, they briefly visited the school’s beautiful three story “Santa House”, located just beside the County Courthouse. It has become a regional landmark and features a Glockenspiel at its peak, owing to the region’s strong German heritage. Inscribed on the School’s sign was their motto: “He errs who thinks Santa enters through the chimney. Santa enters through the heart."

Jim then participated in a multitude of classes and immersive experiences designed to, as stated in the school mission, “provide students with the necessary resources to improve and further

define their individual presentations of Santa and Mrs. Claus, allowing them to enter the hearts and spread the Christmas spirit to everyone they meet.”

Among more than 280 students were the largest cohort of female attendees that the school has witnessed. Holly and Tom Valent, the President and Dean of the school respectively, teach many sessions. They are joined over the course of program by a professional voice and singing coach, an American Sign Language instructor, a fitness coach, a broadcast expert, a magician, and a theatrical makeup artist. Students also learn how to handle the reigns of a sleigh pulled by reindeer (on gimbals), how to make traditional toys, and how to perform in front of a camera. At the graduation ceremony, Tom Valent conferred an “Official Santa’s Helper” degree, with graduates proceeding through an honor guard of veteran Santa’s Helpers equipped with huge candy canes.

At the Rotary Club of Carlisle Sunrise on November 15, Jim will talk of his local experiences, attendance at the school, and the tight knit alumni organization that he has discovered since. He will focus on the core values and principles embedded in the school’s program and of how that relates to the aims and mission of service organizations such as the Rotary.

This coming season, in addition to offering private appearances through Create-A-Palooza, Jim will volunteer for the following nonprofit and charitable community events:
• Carlisle Family YMCA (November 30, 2022)
• Carlisle Making Spirits Bright Holiday Parade (December 1, 2022)
• Carlisle Holly Jolly Jubilee (December 3, 2022)
• Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce Holiday Party (December 8, 2022)
• Carlisle Parks and Recreation: Santa’s Workshop! (December 10, 2022)
• Cumberland County Historical Society Gala (December 10, 2022)
• Salvation Army Senior Action Center Christmas Party (December 15, 2022)
• Carlisle Borough Police at CARES (December 19, 2022)
• Carlisle Borough Police at Big Brother/Big Sister (December 20, 2022)
• Carlisle Borough Police at Safe Harbor (December 22, 2022)

Scroll To Top