A Hannibal family that lost everything in a Christmas Day fire still got a visit from Santa Claus.


A Hannibal family that lost everything in a Christmas Day fire still got a visit from Santa Claus.
Jack Bailey heard about the plight of Kevin Dodd, Angela Hayes and her three children on KHQA TV, and he wanted to help.
The 68-year-old retired concrete finisher runs Santa’s Workshop, a store at 603 E. Fourth in Beardstown, Ill.
Bailey got in touch with the Hannibal Fire Department, which directed him to the hotel where the family was staying.
On Dec. 27, he dressed as Santa Claus and delivered a truck load of presents.
“I can’t see children having no Christmas,” Bailey said. “We took anywhere from six to 10 items for each child.”
The bounty ranged from toys and electronics to hair brushes and school supplies. The children are ages 13, 10 and 8.
“It was good to see the kids happy after what we’ve been through,” Dodd said. “I’m thankful for everybody that helped us and I’m thankful we got out alive.”
The fire erupted at 11:14 a.m. Dec. 25 at 2007 Irwin Street. One of the kids was playing with a lighter and accidentally set fire to a bed.
The flames spread quickly, but the family got out unharmed. A chest that had important papers and some family pictures survived, but the house was not insured.
“They were destitute,” Bailey said. “They had no money. They had no clothes on their backs.”
The Hannibal Salvation Army and Douglass Community Services have provided assistance, and Bailey hasn’t finished his work. He’s trying to recruit agencies and donors in Hannibal who can offer more help.
“It makes me feel good,” he said. “I like seeing the smiles on children’s faces, but more so, I like seeing the smiles on the parents’ faces because their kids are taken care of.”
Dodd said he, Hayes and the children are looking for a permanent home.
“We’re hurting, and we’re just looking for any help we can get,” he said. “I’m trying to see the good in all of it.”
Bailey continues to collect toys at his shop, and is moving his woodworking tools in so that he can make his own toys.
The store is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round, and sometimes makes deliveries. The merchandise carries no price tags.
“There isn’t a thing in that shop for sale,” Bailey said. “I’m not going to sell to a family that needs help.”
While donations come from Toys for Tots and civic groups, Bailey and his wife, Bertha, and their son, B.J., pay for items that aren’t contributed.
They helped almost 500 kids in 2008 and more than 2,000 this year.
“I’m glad we could do something,” Bailey said. “I just hope there was no one we missed.”
More information is available by calling Bailey at (217) 617-3097 or (217) 491-3639.