the Globe Richmond Desk
though Charles Reid died in 1979 at age 81, the tradition
he began is bigger than ever nearly 60 years after
he first dressed up as Santa Claus and distributed
gifts to children in North Richmond.
Determined to bring holiday joy to
the children of an impoverished neighborhood, the Richmond
recreation director gave out stockings filled with fruit,
cookies and candy canes. He even set up loudspeakers
on the front porch of his house to play carols.
a group Richmond High School alumni from
the early 1950s organize the annual Charlie
Reid Christmas Party at Shields-Reid Community
Center. This year they will serve about 3,000
children and distribute gifts to another
1,000 kids through other organizations. Each
child who attends the party receives several
gifts and gets the chance to sit in Santa’s
lap. For many of the children, the party
is the highlight of the season and may be
their only chance to receive holiday gifts.
Residents who encountered Reid as
children cite him as a role model and mentor. The Charles
R. Reid Foundation is now a certified nonprofit organization.
It gives out fliers for its annual event in English,
Spanish and Laotian.
The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department
has been involved since the early days and brings in
a large number of donations each year. The San Francisco
Fire Department also gets involved.
Sponsors of this year’s party
included the National Football League Players Association,
NFL Alumni, NFLJunior Player Development, the Coca-Cola
Company and Omega Pacific Electrical Supply Company of
For the past five years, Santa Claus has
been played by a retired NFL player. For
more information, go to www.charlesreidfoundation.org.