The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 21, 2012

Mike Pound: Not all holiday traditions created equal

By Mike Pound
news@joplinglobe.com

— I love holiday traditions, and today I want to talk about two of them.

The first holiday tradition is the tradition of me being a moron. Whether it’s trying to put a massive amount of potato peels down our garbage disposal on the night before Thanksgiving and thereby clogging up our kitchen sink, as I did many years ago, or it’s making a dumb mistake transcribing a Thanksgiving recipe for the Globe’s food page, as I did this year, you can count on me to screw up.

I’m the moronic equivalent of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

In the On the Table section of Wednesday’s Globe, I wrote about Jennifer Mansfield’s penchant (it’s a word; I looked it up) for using fresh pumpkin rather than canned when making pumpkin pie. I included Jennifer’s pumpkin pie recipe, and I’m proud to say that I got 92 percent of it correct. If I were in school, I would have received an A for my work. Unfortunately, I’m not in school. So, what I get for my work is the right to be called a moron.

Here’s what I got wrong: At the end of the ingredient list, I meant to type “dash of nutmeg,” but for some reason known only to my brain, I instead typed “dash of sage.” I’m not sure if you know much about spices, but sage — while a fine spice — is pretty much the exact opposite of nutmeg. Jennifer, who alerted me to the mistake Wednesday morning, thought the whole thing was pretty funny and chose to look on the bright side.

“Hey, at least it was only a dash,” is pretty much what Jennifer said.

With that out of the way, I would now like to talk about another holiday tradition: Jerry Coach.

Jerry has been making Christmas brighter for area kids for going on 33 years now through his Jerry Coach Santa Claus program. Jerry called me the other day to let me know he is again gathering toys and taking requests for toys for this Christmas.

I’ve known Jerry for more than 20 years. I first met him when I was working at KSNF-TV. When Jerry was a teenager, he was featured on the NBC “Today” program for single-handedly reviving the Christmas parade in his hometown of Picker, Okla.

But long before he was featured on the “Today” show, Jerry was already well-known in the Picher area for his annual Christmas toy drive. In 1978, when Jerry was 7 years old, he was shocked to discover that not all kids received a gift for Christmas. With help from a woman named Vicki Williams, who ran a cafe in Picher, Jerry collected a variety of mostly used toys and delivered them to needy kids in the area. And he’s been going strong ever since.

All told, Jerry manages to help about 125 families in five counties and three states every year. The Jerry Coach Santa Claus program delivers new toys to families in Ottawa County in Oklahoma, Cherokee and Crawford counties in Kansas, and Jasper and Newton counties in Missouri.

Jerry raises the money, purchases and collects the toys, and, with help from his mother and brother, delivers them beginning on Christmas Eve.

And he does all of that despite battling multiple sclerosis. When asked about his health, Jerry, as always, said he is doing fine.

“They’ve got me on a new walking medicine, and that’s helping quite a bit,” he said.

If you would like to donate to Jerry’s Santa program, you may send cash or a check to the Jerry Coach Santa Program, P.O. Box 66, Commerce, OK 74339. If you would like to donate toys, you may call 918-533-8330, and arrangements will be made to have the toys picked up. And if you would like to be placed on Jerry’s toy list, you may call the same phone number, and arrangements will be made for your family to receive gifts on Christmas.



DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.