A heart for Christmas: Walmart brings Santa, cheer to Child Development Center

Santa greets young students at the Cullman County Child Development Center Tuesday morning. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Representatives of the Walmart Heart program on Tuesday visited the Cullman County Child Development Center (CDC), bringing dozens of bicycles, scores of books, gift cards and lots of Christmas cheer. Oh, and by the way, they brought Santa and Mrs. Claus with them! The fabled couple visited with students throughout the day, reading “The Night before Christmas” to classes and passing out hugs, handshakes and books to the students. At the end of their visit, Walmart representatives drew names and gave away all the bicycles.

“It’s all about the kids,” Walmart Heart representative Eddie Posey told The Tribune. “This is strictly about the kids. This has nothing to do with anybody but the kids. That’s our main goal, is to put a smile on their face. It’s kind of emotional, to think about the kids, what they mean to us.”

CDC teacher Becca Rodriguez, who teaches the Therapeutic Learning Community students who were the first to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, said, “I am overwhelmed; I’ve been completely overwhelmed. They are providing our wheelchair students with gift cards to Walmart because they’re not able to participate in the raffle of the bicycles, so they’re providing the $50 gift cards to each of the wheelchair students. It had me in tears; it’s just an overwhelming amount of emotion to know that those workers there have taken their own money to give to our kids. It’s incredible!”

What is Walmart Heart?

Posey explained, “This all started several years ago, with a little boy named Jack Scott. He had a heart condition where he had to be up for a (medical procedure) for 24 hours. He went to a Walmart store and they were like, ‘How do we keep a 6-, 7-year-old kid awake?’ And they showed him the toys.

“Well, he went back to the dock where they unload the trucks, and a Walmart truck came in. And he said, ‘That’s what I want to be: a Walmart truck,’ which we knew he meant a Walmart driver. And from there, the Walmart Heart program was started, and it’s expanded. As you can see, we’ve got several drivers that’s in Walmart Heart. Like I said, this is about the kids. That’s what Walmart Heart is about, is the kids.”

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W.C. Mann