The laugh wasn't jolly. And the red hair on Derrick Byfuglien's chin didn't remind many people of Santa Claus. But his red wagon sleigh was loaded with gifts from the North Pole.
"Look at this. This is what I brought you," Byfuglien told one pediatric patient as he rolled the wagon into her room.
Byfuglien is a Mississippi Sea Wolves defenseman. Buffy's Christmas was his way to give back to the community -- in this case, to bring holiday joy and bags of goodies to hospitalized children. Byfuglien thought it couldn't be much fun being in a hospital on Christmas. "So if I can brighten a day for a kid," he said, "it would be great."
The Sea Wolves converted a hospital room into something that looked like Santa's workshop. The elves carefully checked Buffy's special Christmas list. From there, the donated toys went to pediatric patients and their siblings.
Jana Hoda had an 11 month old daughter on the pediatric floor. "It was so great," she said. "Knowing we were here away from our family and people just took the time out to be here. Yes it was wonderful."
Byfuglien said, "I'm having a lot more fun than I thought I would. It's nice. You go in there and there is a little kid smiling at you, and little babies and you hand them toys. It's making their day. It's great."
This was the first time Byfuglien spent Christmas without his parents. But with coach and a band of elves by his side, he felt right at home sharing Christmas joy with young Gulfport patients.
The toys Byfuglien handed out came from Mississippi Sea Wolves fans. Gifts that weren't passed out on Christmas were left at Memorial Hospital, so the could be given to future pediatric patients.