BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Mike Jones, also known as Salvage Santa, has been rebuilding broken bikes and Christmas toys for children in need for years, but this year, those bikes and toys are needed more than ever.
Instead of serving the usual 1,000 kids, Salvage Santa's got a list, that he's probably checking twice of about 14,000.
Jones lost his home and his workshop to the hurricane, but the storm couldn't take his hope.
Despite the destruction, he's staying strong through his mission to bring Christmas to local kids and he's not doing it alone.
"This little girl, nine years old, sold little cookies, a dollar apiece, she sold 700 of them and she bought $700 worth of toys for our giveaway. That's amazing. We've got stuff coming from all over the United States. Up to 9,000 gifts we've received in the mail and packages. Toys for Tots gave us 400 little bitty bicycles, about the size of tricycles yesterday. The Marine Corps brought them in in a semi-truck. Skip's out there doing the on the bus, he's up on top of the bus this year again. Project 25, the Sheriff's Office is going. I know the Beach Police Department is doing something," he said.
That's not including the 800 to 900 bicycles Jones built himself.
"Despite what it looks like around here, everybody's got the Christmas spirit and I hope that's going to get us through the month of December and last over into January and the spring," he said.
The Salvage Santa toy giveaway kicks off on the 17th and runs through the 21st at the First Baptist Church of Panama City. Parents interested in receiving toys need to fill out an application at their child's school.