Odds and Ends

If you happened to be listening to powerhouse station WBAP 820AM in DFW last week (where I broadcast my Sunday morning radio programs), you heard us doing a 65-hour Christmas is for Caring radiothon fund- and gift-raiser for the Denton State Supported Living Center.

(All CIFC photos by Valerie Avery, Director of the Volunteer Services of DSSLC. Valerie is the sensational leader of this team of hundreds of volunteers.)

This was just a small part of the boxes of donated gifts dropped off at Calloway’s last weekend in Christmas is for Caring for the Denton State Supported Living Center.

This was the 43rd annual CIFC campaign. I’ve been involved for 42 of them, and I’ve seen them bring out the very best in my fellow Texans.

The men and women who call the Denton State Supported Living Center home live each day with profound physical and mental challenges. I had the good fortune of serving on the Volunteer Services board for 30 years, so I am well familiar with the facility and what it does to help these children of God.

Chad Stenslie, DSSLC Special Projects Coordinator, talks to a WBAP listener who is getting involved with CIFC.
Tyrone Nash, Director of Training, CTD for the DSSLC, volunteered at the phone bank. Many of the employees donated their time to help.

This year we again sought two gifts for each of the 450 residents. Listeners called and took those 900 gifts off our lists in the first day of the drive (first time ever!). The folks at WBAP could not have been more supportive!

Each person bought and wrapped the gifts and took them to their choice of the 21 Calloways Nursery locations in DFW.

(L to R) Luciano Jr., Alexander and Luciano Martinez Sr. of Whiz-Q Stone of Fort Worth deliver boxes and boxes of gifts dropped off by WBAP listeners at Calloway’s Nurseries last weekend. Mr. Martinez began doing this when his sons were boys. They have looked forward to helping each year since.

Members of the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association Region 5 (the Fort Worth region), headed by the Whisenand family of Whiz-Q Stone of Fort Worth, picked up all the gifts and delivered them to the Denton SSLC over the weekend.

More gifts brought from Calloway’s (drop-off locations) to the Denton location in the big Whiz-Q Stone truck. Greg Hipps (L) and Justin Whisenand on the right.

As a side note, I just have to say that Region 5 of TNLA makes me so proud to be a part of the Texas nursery industry. Well done, again, my friends! They have been standing alongside the DSSLC for at least 25 or 30 years.

My long-time friend and a man who has my utmost respect, Rick O’Connor. Rick and I served on the Volunteer Services board for probably two decades together. No one in this state gives any more freely of his time and care to this population than this man. His father Dick was legendary in the state for his support as well. Dick received a standing ovation at his joyful memorial service.
Monday morning Dan Shea of the Pharoah’s Car Club stopped by the DSSLC to drop off a check for $2000. The club had had a car show this past weekend and decided to pledge proceeds to Christmas is for Caring. We thank them!

Step 2 of the donations came as we sought funds to build a new horticultural therapy greenhouse at the DSSLC. This would be to replace the one that burned to the ground several years ago. We completed that drive by Wednesday evening. Construction on the greenhouse will begin sometime in early 2022.

Thursday and Friday we sought funds to provide special meals to each resident. Because of the pandemic, they’ve been campus-bound since March 2020, and having one or two meals brought in from local restaurants so they could dine with their friends tells them that we remember them and care about them.

And again, we were successful in raising those funds. Thanks to all who contributed! You were absolutely amazing!

Continued Below

Now, as for the Santas…

Santas I’ve made from antique chocolate molds on the right. (One mold is visible as well as the Santa that was poured in it.) On the left are folk art Santas I made from yard spools. Click the image for larger view.

I have been collecting and painting Santas for probably 40 years. I have carved Santas, and I have painted many flat Santas.

This gourd just had “Santa” written all over it when I bought the plain, dried fruit. It took me several hours just to paint that beard. (I’m not very fast.) Click the image for larger view.

I love painting gourds because they’re Santa-shaped to start with.

I’ve carved a good many Santas. There are five in this photo across the back and down to the squatty Texan on the right. The rest are all poured with plaster into antique chocolate molds and then painted and finished. Click the image for larger view.

But perhaps my favorites are the ones I paint from antique European chocolate molds from the 1930s. I’ve bought several hundreds of the molds over the years. Some are fairly simple, but others such as the glorious ones made in the factory of Anton Reiche of Dresden, Germany, have incredible detail.

Note: Here is a 12-minute documentary video on the huge Anton Reiche chocolate mold factory in case you’d like to learn a bit more.

My migraine-associated vertigo has made Santa painting more difficult for the past 5-plus years. With the help of a vision specialist I’m trying new glasses and new aides. Maybe something will work.

These are photos of Santas I’ve made over time. I hope you enjoy them. If not, I have scores of others I can share another year. 🙂

Posted by Neil Sperry
Back To Top