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Kiwanis International Trustee, wife may be the real Mr. and Mrs. Claus

Steven Hadt | Dec 20, 2017

Kiwanis International Trustee, wife may be the real Mr. and Mrs. Claus Kiwanis International Trustee, wife may be the real Mr. and Mrs. Claus Chuck Gugliuzza has nine Santa suits made by a movie costume designer. Emilia Gugliuzza—Chuck's wife of 18 years—colors her hair grey to make the experience for the kids even more real. The pair estimates Mr. and Mrs. Claus will share laughs and smiles with more than 10,000 kids during the 2017 holiday season.

The Gugliuzzas have been Santa's helpers for 15 years. In 2002, a South Florida chapter of The Arc asked Emilia for help. The organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities needed someone to play Santa at a gathering for 50 kids. She turned to Chuck, who agreed to put on an old, hand-me-down Santa suit for the party. It was a moment that changed his life.

Kiwanis International Trustee, wife may be the real Mr. and Mrs. Claus "Just seeing the smiles and making the memories means everything to us," says Chuck, who is a member of the Kiwanis International Board of Trustees. "I will be Santa as long as I can."

The following year, one event turned into two, and it just kept growing. Organizations that support the children of migrant workers seek out the Gugliuzzas for parties. Hospitals treating children with cancer ask them to meet their patients. And the list continues to grow. This year, Chuck and Emilia will don their custom-made costumes at 35 events between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Chuck admits this Christmas will be bittersweet for the couple. For the first time since getting married, the two will spend the holiday apart. Emilia will be in Colombia for the charter ceremony of a new Kiwanis club she opened. The ceremony will be combined with a service project where Mrs. Claus will give away presents and candy to an estimated 3,000 kids. Chuck isn't able to go on the trip because he'll be busy playing Santa for the Northside Naples (Florida, USA) Kiwanis Club's signature project: Christmas in Immokalee. Approximately 1,100 families will show up to see Santa and share a meal.

Kiwanis International Trustee, wife may be the real Mr. and Mrs. Claus "It will be hard being separated at Christmas," Chuck says. "But we agreed to it because of our love of Kiwanis."

Santa and Mrs. Claus walk into most of the gatherings with bags full of toys and candy purchased with donations from the Kiwanis Club of Homestead-South Dade (Florida, USA) and neighboring clubs. Chuck's company, Alton Madison Property Management, and the Gugliuzzas themselves have funded the community service that gets so many smiles.

"I have no idea what it costs. But when you start adding it up ... 6,000 toys, 3,000 teddy bears and 8,000 candy canes … it adds up," Chuck says. "We have never calculated what this is costing us. But does it matter? This could be the only gift some of these kids get at Christmastime. It's worth it."

Kiwanis International Trustee, wife may be the real Mr. and Mrs. Claus

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