|Val Jenkins, resident Santa at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif., uses sign language to communicate to deaf kids.(Photo: Noerr Programs)|
SPECIAL NEEDS SANTA
Imagine not being able to hear the sounds of Christmas.
No jingle bells. No laughter. No ho-ho-ho.
Val Jenkins can imagine that. Jenkins is not deaf, but the retired school employee from Spring City, Utah, is an unusual Santa Claus who learned sign language and communicates the joy of Christmas with the deaf.
He is hard of hearing and has a brother who is deaf.
“I can understand what these kids are going through,” says Jenkins, 63, resident Santa at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif. “These are kids who are afraid of being singled out by society.”
A few years ago, a deaf girl – who was with a caregiver – was too shy to approach him, so he walked up to her. He knelt down, spoke with her briefly in sign language, then asked her something she’d never been asked before: to sing Jingle Bells with him in sign language.
The girl was enthralled. She sadly told Jenkins that her parents did not sign with her. The caregiver explained to Jenkins that they were not interested in learning sign language.
A week later, the girl returned with an uncle and jumped into Jenkins’ arms. The uncle saw their special relationship and later passed that on to the parents.
Two weeks before Christmas, she showed up again – with both parents. They told Jenkins something that struck him as the best gift he could imagine: Both were learning sign language, they said, thanks to him.
Source: USA TODAY
| The inside scoop from 7 Santa standouts Tucson Citizen
22, 2013, under News … Jenkins is not deaf, but the retired school employee from Spring City, Utah, is an unusual Santa Claus who learned sign …