Sabrina Hill Becomes Mrs. Claus

​AgNet West farm news director Sabrina Hill was born just a few hours from the North Pole. North Pole, Alaska, that is. While she may be purely Californian now, every Christmas she channels some of her snowy beginnings, dons red velvet and white fur, and turns into Mrs. Claus. For Hill, it’s more than a fun Christmas tradition, it’s an opportunity to give a little comfort when people need it most. “Emotions are amplified during the holidays,” she explained. “There are a lot of people, a lot of families, struggling with major issues every day, and they can seem even bigger during the holidays. This is something I can do to bring a moment of happiness to people.” She started about six years ago, with a single visit to a friend’s child who was very sick and hospitalized. She sewed a Mrs. Claus dress, grabbed a  basket of candy canes, and headed to the Children’s Hospital. “It really warmed my heart how happy everyone was to see Mrs. Claus. I’m so glad I took a ton of candy canes and stickers, because the nurses kept asking me to visit ‘one more patient.’ I can’t explain what it’s like to walk into a room and see a little child, who’s very sick or in a lot of pain, just light up and forget about everything for a moment,” she said. Calling on her previous experience and training in grief and hospice situations, Hill now mainly visits children who are facing life-threatening illnesses. However, she also works with other groups, and sometimes pulls in her radio station affiliates to help. “Every year, I focus on one major volunteer or fundraising effort. A couple years ago, I teamed up with our local affiliate to do a toy drive. It was as simple as calling them up on the phone and saying ‘I have a crazy idea and you can help.’ I recorded some promos, they used the station as a toy drop-off center, and our listeners donated enough toys to restock the children’s hospital play room. The woman I worked with at the station went with me to deliver the toys and to stay and do crafts with the kids,” Hill recalled. “For the last few years, I’ve enlisted the help of some farm broadcasters from around the nation, and we make sure every person at the Fresno (CA) veteran’s hospital has a Christmas card. I enlist the help of a Santa, and we do a sing-a-long with the veterans, and then go room to room delivering cards. I always sit down with the person, read the card to them, and then let them tell me about their Christmas memories.” Her work is not all hospital visits. Hill participates in Christmas parades, tree lightings, food and toy drives for families in need, and other community events. Santa is always the star of the show, but Hill says being Mrs. Claus has its own benefits.

“Santa is so busy! Everyone wants his attention, and he has to see and know everything – and I don’t mean in the mythical sense. Those kids ask a lot of questions!” Hill continued, “But, when you’re Mrs. Claus, you get to really listen to people. You get to hold them when they cry and help them feel better, even if it’s just for that moment. And I don’t mean just the kids. I usually find myself doing the same with the parents.” She says everyone has a little bit of the Clauses in them. “I always say that Santa exists to be a reminder of the greatest love and the greatest gift, and an example of how we humans should love and honor one another,” Hill said. “It’s not about a wish list or reindeer, but kindness and compassion. We all have some of that to share.”