The Chris Behind the
An alumnus shares his love for the holidays
By Jeff Murphy
For University of Central Missouri alumnus Chris Shaeffer, signs of the holiday season are in full bloom when November and December arrive. By then, emails are rolling into his home office -- some from children across the globe -- from countries such as Canada, England and Germany. The weekends are getting busy, too. It's a time when he puts on his colorful, time-honored suit and drives to a local hospital or a special event to meet youngsters eager to share their deepest Christmas wishes.
In recent years, such scenarios have become common for Shaeffer. Shortly after the professional baseball season ends in October, he makes a transition from his career as an editorial producer with MLB.com to Kriss Kringle, a jolly old elf who has his own website and makes numerous special appearances across the Kansas City metropolitan area. Much of his time spent during the holiday season is dedicated to helping children, often those who are ill, as well as kids displaced from their families or who come from households with tremendous need.
"As much as I love my regular job, I have found no better job than playing Santa Claus," said Shaeffer, who now sports a full, white beard and jokes that his fondness for cookies enables him to wear less padding under his red and white suit.
Actually, to call Shaeffer's role as Kriss Kringle a "job" is a misnomer. It's an avocation he embraces with great passion and love -- one that he does mostly without compensation, except for a few private and corporate events. But in the true spirit of the character he portrays, he gives all the money he earns from paying gigs to his favorite charitable causes. One of them is the Kansas City Salvation Army Children's Shelter, which hosts kids who, through no fault of their own, are no longer residing in their family home.
With help from a few of his "elves," Shaeffer obtains the children's wish lists during the holiday season, then he purchases gifts to present to them on Christmas Eve. His wife, Nancy, and their daughter, Kayla, are among his biggest supporters and often accompany him to the shelter.