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Texas-based nonprofit lends a hand to the real Santa Claus


OK. If you're one of many Americans who quit their job during the pandemic searching for something more meaningful, here's a career suggestion from a man who does about one month of work every year and has a nice uniform.

JIM FLETCHER: I am Santa Jim Fletcher. I've been Santa for 16 years.


Jim Fletcher is the 81-year-old founder of Lone Star Santas. It's a Texas-based nonprofit that lends a hand to the real Santa Claus while he's up in the North Pole. Fletcher has some tips to offer potential Santas. For starters, be prepared for anything.

FLETCHER: This little girl last night wanted to know if some way I could get her Elf on the Shelf pregnant 'cause she wanted a baby elf (laughter).


THE MOONGLOWS: (Singing) Well, Santa Claus, bring my baby back. Bring my baby back...

INSKEEP: Even though Santa only goes into the office during the holidays, Fletcher considers it a year-round occupation.

FLETCHER: I don't leave the house without wearing something red. Go into a restaurant to eat and if there's kids there or adults - adults turn into kids when they see Santa Claus.


RUN-DMC: (Rapping) ...Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese. And Santa put gifts under Christmas trees.

INSKEEP: A big part of the job is to create lasting memories.

FLETCHER: I'd say 85% of 2-year-olds are scared to death of Santa. Crying kids' pictures - that's the one that stays up on the refrigerator for ages. Fifteen years from now, they show - the parents show that picture to the boyfriends or girlfriends that come in (laughter).


ARIANA GRANDE: (Singing) Santa, tell me if you're really there. Don't make me fall in love again if he won't be here...

MARTIN: The pandemic was tough on Fletcher because Santas couldn't be close to kids. They could only talk through plexiglass or have virtual visits. But he says things are a little more normal this year, and demand to see the big guy is up.

FLETCHER: People want Santa Claus. We are a symbol of love, hope and joy. I look at doing what we do as kind of a ministry unto its own. And if you're on this side of the beard and you can see the reaction of people, it's amazing.

MARTIN: One more perk of the job - Santa drives a really cool company vehicle.


EARTHA KITT: (Singing) Santa baby, a '54 convertible, too... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.