Saturday, December 24, 2016

Young Girl's Santa Letter Changed Soldier's Life

Santa letter 50 years ago changed lives
The Republic
By Staff Reports
12/23/16

Written by Kim Stover
Our shared wish for an end to armed conflict still resonates, and my Vietnamese doll still stands on my desk, a testament to a young soldier’s big heart and a young girl’s belief in Santa Claus and in goodness itself.
Fifty years ago, the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal published my letter to Santa Claus, shaping my adult life.
When my second-grade teacher, Judy Williamson Mervine, assigned a letter to Santa Claus, I wrote, “Dear Santa Claus, Please stop the war in Vietnam and give all of my toys to the people there so they will have a good Christmas and if I don’t get any toys I won’t care because Christmas is when the baby Jesus was born in the manger and we have gifts to celebrate Christmas. Kimberly Ann Stover.”

Surprised that my letter asked for something beyond toys, Mrs. Mervine decided to contact the Journal.

The Journal reporter asked me what war was, and I said it was fighting with guns. She asked me if I really believed in Santa Claus, and I said yes, but admitted, “Santa might not get there because his reindeer would get tired.” She also asked if Santa had any toys left over, what present would I want. I said a doll.

The front page of the Dec. 22, 1966, Journal featured the story.

Close to where my family lived, Mrs. Anita Ripley read the article and sent it to her son, Private First Class Jim Ripley, who was stationed near Saigon working as a heavy vehicle driver in Company B of the 69th Engineering Battalion of the U.S. Army.

Then Jim decided to make sure that I got that doll.
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