While many kids will be writing letters to Santa Claus this year, not all of them get to do it with the assistance of a professional athlete.
New England Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko was at Old Post Road Elementary School Tuesday to help 3rd and 4th graders write letters to Santa.
Although there weren't many Mesko jerseys among the 150 students, many of them wore Patriots jerseys and apparel and one boy even made a sign to hold up.
The special appearance by the Patriot punter was to help raise awareness and money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation through retailer Macy's 'Believe' campaign.
“Well we’re here basically to help raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation for Massachusetts and Rhode Island through Macy’s," Mesko said. "They’re doing a 'Believe' campaign where for each letter to Santa written by the kids, they donate a $1 up to $1 million, which we hopefully will max out.”
Mesko spoke briefly about the intiative to the ecstatic group of youngsters and then answered questions such as: "Are you friends with Tom Brady?"
He is, he said, and had kind words for Tom.
After, the students got to writing their letters to Santa with the help of No. 14.
“I’ll try my best to be their spell checker today and toss around some ideas if they have any questions," Mesko said.
9-year-old Timothy Sullivan - the boy with the sign - already knows what he wants for Christmas.
“I want a picture of all the Patriots and Mr. Kraft and to have lunch with them,” the 4th grader said.
Timothy said he loves football and was very excited to be meeting a Patriots player in person.
“You get to see him in real life and meet him more,” he said.
Little Emma Webb said she is hoping Santa will bring her a Mi-Ki puppy for Christmas.
“Because it’s super, super, super, super, super, super small. I don’t like big dogs,” she said smiling.
The 3rd grader was thrilled to be meeting Mesko and said she got to give him a high five.
She also understood the reason behind his visit as she recently cut her hair as a show of support for people with cancer.
“I cut my hair for cancer. I used to have super-long hair,” she said. “Because some kids might have cancer and might need some hair and they can’t get any other hair because they can’t grow it back so I decided to cut my hair for cancer.”
The event is not the first experience Make-A-Wish has with Mesko and the Patriots.
“It’s awesome. The Make-A-Wish Foundation has done so many great things and I know the Patriots are great at their charitable giving and we’ve had quite a few kids drop by from the Make-A-Wish Foundation that have been granted their wish through them at practice and we got to meet them and sign their autographs and shake hands. It’s pretty cool what they do,” he said.
“If their wish is that, than that’s their dream come true and we’re more than willing to fulfill that wish just because kids are so awesome to be around. They really have that magic in their eyes and if we can do something to brighten their day up, especially with the situation they're sent to us with, it’s incredible to be in that position to make a difference,” Mesko said.
OPR students also have familiarity with the foundation as they held a fundraising spelling bee in February of this year and raised over $7,500.
The 'Believe' campaign is a nationwide initiative to raise money for Make-A-Wish. To take part children must write their letters to Santa and drop them off at a Macy's store - before Christmas Eve - where they will be sent to the North Pole.
"Letters that are written here in Massachusetts and Rhode Island will help to fund wishes for kids right in our community," said Make-A-Wish representative Katherine Layton.
“It’s just fun to be a part of the holiday season and spread holiday cheer,” Mesko said.