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Never too soon to help others

It’s never too early to get caught up in the holiday spirit — especially when it encourages us to help others.

That’s why we were pleased to see a familiar face make an early visit to Denton last weekend. Yes, that was Santa Claus on the Square, greeting pedestrians on the sidewalk along North Elm Street.

As people passed by, Santa waved and smiled and asked some whether they had been naughty or nice. Smiles spread across the faces of children whose eyes widened as they approached him.

Adults, too, seemed glad to see St. Nick, although Brooke Rose of Krum told us that seeing the jolly old elf came as a surprise.

“We were surprised, but it was a nice surprise,” she said. “It’s good that everyone is walking out so that they could see him.”

Though the official start of the holiday season is still a couple of weeks off, Santa was on hand for three hours Saturday and Sunday to greet those on the Square and to pose for pictures. The visit was a new addition to the Downtown Denton Holiday Open House hosted by the Denton Main Street Association.

Local businesses participated in the event, offering specials, refreshments and door prize drawings, and at the spot where Santa was set up, coats were collected as part of a winter coat drive helping local families in need — another new addition to the open house.

A box of donated coats and other clothing was nearly overflowing Sunday afternoon.

Mario and Emma Ramon stopped by the courtyard Sunday along with their 4-year-old daughter, Monica, to drop off a bag of coats.

“It feels like we’re helping,” Emma Ramon said.

That’s a nice feeling to have, and if the sight of Old Santa wasn’t enough to get us thinking about the season of giving, the generosity of those who dropped off coats certainly did the trick.

The coat drive that kicked off over the weekend on the Square will continue until early on Christmas Day. Sweetwater Grill and Tavern, located at 115 S. Elm St., will accept donations of gently used or new coats through the morning of Dec. 25. The coats will be distributed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day at a holiday meal hosted by the restaurant for the less fortunate.

Most of us take warm clothing for granted, but for many of our neighbors, this week’s early cold snap was an ominous sign that winter and the hardships it brings are just around the corner.

We encourage all our readers to remember to give generously to area drives designed to meet this critical need.

There will be many more opportunities to donate as the holidays grow closer, but like we said, it’s never too early to get started, and a few gentle reminders — like Santa’s visit to the Square last weekend, can help us remember to be generous.

Thanks, Santa, for putting us in a holiday frame of mind.