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Santa’s helpers creating Reasons To Smile

Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey has a look at the holiday helpers here at home stepping up to spread smiles this season.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — It’s been a tough year for many businesses with the COVID-19 restrictions in place. It’s been difficult to make money and payrolls are tight. However, a number of places are getting a welcomed surprise of support from so many caring people across our area.

Viewers shared a few of Santa’s helpers making an impact with us, and sometimes those giving back come dressed ready to spread smiles and Christmas cheer.

By day, Justin Correll is the principal of Solomon Plains Elementary School in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District.

At night, he said, “I'm also the Mayor of Laurel Run Borough. I am on a couple of different committees.”

Correll wanted to do more, especially for the struggling small businesses in his community he loves.

“These are the people that are sponsoring our little leagues. They are helping our schools. They are out there helping us all the time,” added Correll.

So, Correll decided to give back with a little festive flare, dressing up as “Jolly Christmas, The Elf.”  It's a character Justin started four years ago with hopes to inspire kids to read. Now, Jolly Christmas helps lend at hand at some of his favorite local restaurants including Arena Bar & Grill along Coal Street near Wilkes-Barre.

“If I could come on a Saturday to help them out, that I could be a volunteer, not get paid and follow the health restrictions with my gloves and my mask and just take carry out outside of people's cars, that's something I can do just to help out to make sure that these places that I enjoy that continue to give back to our community, you know, stay financially set, that they can come back and help us out,” added Correll.

“I knew that he would always bring such a positive vibe to the restaurant,” said Alivia Womelsdorf, a server at Arena Bar & Grill.

“I've worked here for 12 years and, you know, for people to come in and want to help us and support us during these times, it means a lot,” added Clare Finn, a bartender at Arena Bar & Grill.

Finn says Correll is doing great as a bartender helper.

No matter how anyone gives of themselves right now, small businesses stress the generosity from Santa’s helpers, like Justin, helps them well beyond the holiday season.

When asked about the impact customers make when they get gift cards and take out, Womelsdorf said, “It means like you're supporting us for the long haul, not just these three weeks and for Christmas. It's a very heartwarming and giving experience when local people and customers that come in regularly want to really help us out. And I can't really describe it in words like how much they have helped us throughout this process. And just them continuing coming in has been a really big deal, especially for me and the other coworkers.”

It’s a big deal coming at an unforgettable time, creating smiles, by “jolly” acts of kindness.