Our own Santa needs your help this Christmas
AFTER all Santa's done for most of us, maybe it's time we did something to help his disaster-stricken little brother, Colin.
But Colin Betts, who makes some of his living representing Santa, is not asking for a handout, just a gig or two helping brighten up our lives.
He performs as Santa, often at no charge, but suffered personal tragedy on August 20, when his sister's house at Curra burned down.
"It was gone in 20 minutes," he said.
"I lost my best mate of 13 years," he says of his dog Elu, a companion he has had all her life.
She was killed in the blaze.
And, as a person who dresses up for a living - mainly as Santa, or a native American chief - he lost all his costumes, including his authentic Indian chief head dress.
"There's only one Santa," he told The Gympie Times. "But he lets me represent him sometimes."
"I used to work for Bluestone," he says of the Christmas and Santa related company, which in Melbourne hires out Santas to department stores, shopping centres and private functions.
"But I don't live in Melbourne any more. I was on my way there to see my kids," he says.
Fortunately his vehicle, now his "bedroom," was at the home of his neighbours at Curra, Diane and Sid Whitby.
And that is where he is living for now.
Since moving to Gympie he has done charitable work as Santa for retirement villages and organisations like Little Haven.
"They gave me a sack of teddy bears, which I give away to anyone who wants one.
"I often work for charity, just to make people feel happy, but if someone wants to give me $100 I'll take it."
With a business model like that, Mr Betts does not expect to get rich.
But in one way, he already is.
"Friends," he said. "I've got some good friends."
Two of them are the Witbys and another is Curra Country Club president Wayne Derkins, who bought Mr Betts some new Santa suits.
Yesterday he was getting back into business, trying to save up for a new Indian chief head dress (a genuine one, made by native Americans to replace the one he bought some years ago for $850).
First job of the day was to renew his Blue Card, so he can work with kids.
"Can you believe it?" said our very own Santa representative. "It expires on December 25."
If you need a Santa for Christmas and want to stay off the naughty list, you can ring Mr Betts on 0422 856 579.
He needs your help right here because, as he says, "Santa lives at the North Pole and it's a long walk."