Santa Wears OD:
Arty Spreads Christmas Cheer
By PFC DOUG SAINSBURY (Hq 2/77th FA December, 1968)
CU CHI - A Santa Claus dressed in green will visit the children of Duc Hanh B and other nearby hamlets this Christmas.
He’s not quite as plump as the white-whiskered December globe-trotter, but Private First Class Fred Maul of Los Angeles, 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery artist, will be lugging a huge sack crammed with clothes, toys, and candy for the kids.
“He was painting road signs for school zones in Duc Hanh B,” said Command Sergeant Major Charles L. Smith of Oakland, Calif. “That’s when he got the idea of initiating a Christmas program for the children.”
“I NOTICED that the kids didn’t have
much to play with, but they took good care of what toys they did have. I
thought it would be a good idea to try to get clothing such as shorts, tennis
shoes and T-shirts in addition to toys,” said Maul.
It was at this point that Maul’s imagination kicked into gear and the idea snowballed into a full-scale project. He wrote to his wife and suggested the possibility of people back home sending articles to kids here for Christmas.
“I also wrote to friends, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Dallas of Los Angeles. They presented the idea to local newspapers and the papers ran a story asking people to donate new or used clothes and toys of all types,” Maul said.
“THE RESPONSE was great as many people
brought things to the Dallas’ pet shop, and they have been sending them to
us. They’ve paid all shipping costs,” Maul said.
As large packages loaded with toys, clothes and candy arrive at 2/77 Headquarters, Maul sorts them and prepares them for presentation. He intends to put three or four toys and some candy in individual bags so that more kids will have presents at Christmas.
“The larger toys will be given to Vietnamese province hospitals for the kids there,” he said. “Dolls and large trucks will be kept by the hospitals for the kids who are patients.”
The gifts will be presented to children as close to Christmas Day as possible.
“IT IS A great idea for a young man to
attempt to help these people in South Vietnam in his personal way. In my
three years in Vietnam I’ve never seen a young enlisted man who has had the
initiative to promote a program of this nature. He has the complete
support of myself and Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Wright, our battalion
commander,” said Smith.
“Packages of toys are still coming in and the response of the people of Los Angeles has been immediate and far better than I anticipated,” Maul said. “T h e program should help strengthen our pacification efforts in these same hamlets and villages.”