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January 1, 2003

Faithful Santa Saves Christmas.

From: WJHL, TN - 01 Jan 2003

A Mall Santa's faith proves to be the catalyst for bringing together a father and his children.

by Jim Bailey
NewsChannel 11 & UMTV

You would think Michael Singleton is too old to believe in Santa Claus. But then you don't know about his one Christmas wish.

"If I hadn't met Santa Claus, I wouldn't be here right now," grins the affible man who shows no sign of an affliction.

The jolly old elf he refers to is Curt Keller, who played Santa at a mall. That's where he met Michael. But when he said hello, Michael didn't respond.

"So I looked at him for a moment then I started signing to him." recalled the United Methodist Minister. "His eyes got wide. Santa Claus signs! Then we started talking, and he told me about how his kids were taken from him three years ago."

Michael's kids had been in foster care ever since his wife was accused of spanking too hard. Michael was at work when it happened, but because this deaf man couldn't understand state workers, they decided he too was to blame, and took his children away.

"I felt like nobody cared," tears welling in Michael's eyes. "Nobody wanted to help me."

Nobody but Curt Keller. As a minister he's also a licensed family therapist. He got access to Michael's files and discovered his new friend hadn't done anything wrong.

"It's just because he's deaf, and some people refused to accept that, that he lost his children for almost four years. It was really hard on him" explains this saintly Santa.

So Reverend Santa went to work. He spent months convincing the state that the Singleton kids deserved to be with their father.

Which state really isn't important to this story. What is important is the faith which led Keller to tirelessly work to help someone, who everyone else had just passed by. A Christmas story with a touch of the tale of the Good Samaritan.

But Michael, who recently picked up his children for the first time in four years, has his own interpretation."It's like an angel just came to save me."

An angel in a red suit, who gave the only Christmas gift Michael Singleton ever truly needed.

©2003, Media General, Inc.