-- He has white hair, a long beard and a talent for making toys. Sound like anyone you know?
Harold Cote of Norway, Maine, will be gifting children with his homemade, wooden toys tonight at his local church, where he plans on telling kids he’s Santa’s helper, Cote told ABC News.
Cote, who people often mistake for Santa Claus, took up woodworking in high school and has been crafting wood items on and off for most of his life, he said. About a year after his retirement, Cote said he decided to put his hobby to good use and make toys for children.
“I want to make some little kids happy,” Cote said.
He took a break from for a while but started back up again when he moved from Florida to Maine about a year ago, he said. His landlord let him convert the old garbage room behind his apartment building into his own workshop and since then he has made a couple hundred toys.
“I make cradles for dolls, bunk beds for dolls, single beds for dolls, airplanes, trucks, cars, dollhouses, a variety of everything,” Cote said. He will be handing out these toys tonight at the Second Congregational Church in Norway.
“I work between eight and 10 hours every day in my shop,” Cote said. “I work out of my living room too at night putting things together.”
Cote said he wants to give kids the kind of Christmas he never had as a child.
“I was brought up poor so I’m trying to make a difference in a lot of kids’ lives right now,” he said, adding that he pays for everything out of his own pocket and doesn't take donations. "Maybe that’s why I’m always broke. I don’t know and I don’t care."
Cote “can’t wait” to see the look on kids’ faces upon receiving his toys, as well as the comic books, crayons and lollipops he is also bringing to the church, he said.
Although Cote won’t admit to being Kris Kringle himself, he said he wants kids to know Santa Claus does exist. After all, the mystery of Santa Claus is part of what makes Christmas so special.
“When I leave this world, I want kids to know that there is a Santa Claus and he does care for kids,” Cote said.