83-Year-Old Priest Makes Toys for Needy Children

A retired priest in Ocean Springs gives more than his blessings during the holidays. He gives hand-made wooden toys to children. The 83-year-old priest said making the toys for children makes his life enjoyable.

Reverend James Hannon loves making wooden toys for underprivileged kids every year.

He said, "I make them every year for Christmas. And by Christmas, 3 or 4 days before Christmas. I give them out over in Pascagoula."

Hannon, who is approaching his 59th year as a priest, takes pride in his creations, and loves seeing the faces of children when he delivers the toys.

"I'm Santa Claus. Santa Claus--but I don't have the girth or the beard, and I feel great about it. Well, it keeps me going," he said.

Playing Santa is tough for the 83 year old priest. The physical aspects of the job can be draining to anyone, but somehow he finds the strength.

"It's a tricycle," he said, spinning the wheels. "It works. Want to try it?"

The hand-made tricycle is what Hannon calls one of his "simpler" toys. It only takes him less than an hour to make it. He said these "simple" toys make low-income families happy during a difficult Christmastime.

"And for some of them--many of them--that's the only toy they would be able to get for Christmas, so I enjoy making them and they enjoy receiving them. So we're a good combination," he added.

Hannon gives the toys to more than 70 children every year. In return, the children give him something, too.

"If I had to sit down and watched that tv everyday, I'd be dead long ago, but making the toys everyday just about all year keeps me going., " he said.

It keeps him going by creating joy with his hands... as well as his heart.