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MINEOLA, TX (KLTV) -
An East Texas city is honoring the memory of one of its former residents by opening up one of his former homes to the public to help some deserving kids.
Zeb Love had a passion for helping children in need, and he and his wife Louise operated their own little red Santa house for more than 20 years, giving away toys and some Christmas cheer.
And after Zeb's death a little more than a year ago, the city of Mineola is continuing his tradition.
"He loved children and he tried his best to make them happy," said Zeb's son, Mike Love.
Zeb worked as a train conductor for more than 40 years. During that time, he criss-crossed the country collecting toys for Ralph Lauren's Toys for Tots - and when he retired, he built a little red Santa house to keep giving to local kids in need.
"They collected toys the entire year. and then when Christmastime came around, Zeb and Louise would open their doors to the Santa house and invite children from all over the counties to come and see Santa at Pop's Santa house and give toys to the needy children," said Mike Love.
Mike Love says the Love Santa House grew into a year-round operation, helping several hundred kids a year.
"It touched his heart, and anybody that knew Pop knew that all children were his children. He was a guy that he had the twinkle in the eye of Santa Claus, and when kids came around, they were at home," said Mike. "They were his children. And to make them feel better made him feel better."
Zeb passed away in September, 2011, and earlier this year, his family donated his house to Mineola's Historical Museum, where it will sit year-round. To celebrate, the city set up its first Christmas drive-through exhibit, and this weekend they will open the Love Santa House to give toys to needy children, too.
"I think I really hope that not only do they enjoy the exhibit, but that they take away a sense of community and sharing," said Lynda Rauscher, Mineola's Community Development Director. "And of course Zeb was so instrumental in leaving this legacy that I hope everybody takes away a little bit of Christmas cheer."
The drive-through Christmas exhibit is free to the public and is lit at night, and city officials encourage you to drive through as many times as you can.
Santa will be at the Mineola Historical Museum giving away toys this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The museum is located at 114 Pacific Street in Mineola.
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