'Tis the season: Hunter Stone crew member spreads holiday cheer to local community
Mike Schaefer and his wife Jes, with help from Martin Marietta, donate to families in need
You better watch out.
You better not cry.
You better not pout.
I’m telling you why:
Mike Schaefer is coming to town!
Schaefer, a dozer operator at Hunter Stone, and his wife Jes have been dressing as Mr. and Mrs. Claus for a charitable cause.
For the past 14 years, the duo has delivered donated presents to those less fortunate to ensure all the good boys and girls facing hardships in the community are greeted with a gift on Christmas morning.
“There are families here in Central Texas who don’t have much of anything, and they are living in conditions we would compare to medieval times,” said Mike. “So, my wife started this outreach program and came to me with the idea to dress as Santa to give back to the community; I, of course, said yes.”
Throughout the year, the Schaefers work with local schools, churches and family crisis centers to collect the names and addresses of those in need and then collect gifts to bring to them.
Whether it’s small toys or new clothes, Mike and Jes say the children are happy no matter what they unwrap.
“There’s some of the kids that we’ve seen grow up. We’ve known them since they were 3 or 4 years old, and now they’re 18-year-old adults,” Mike said. “So, when you see these little kids who put on their tiny suits and dresses because they want to have their picture taken with Santa and look nice for him, you realize it’s not really about the toys. It’s about knowing that somebody’s there and that someone cares about them.”
This cause is deeply personal to the couple. Jes was a homeless youth herself, and said she has harsh memories of heartbreaking situations she will never forget. That is what inspires her and her husband to help those in a similar situation.
“My heart is with those who are homeless. My heart is with these families in need,” Jes said. “This season, and all year long, people should have their hearts open and be willing to help.”
At the height of this outreach, the Schaefer’s said they were assisting upwards of 75 families with over 200 children. A feat the Schaefers admit, they couldn’t handle alone.
Luckily, the Clauses of New Braunfels, Texas, get help each year from the folks at Hunter Stone.
While Santa may have elves, the Schaefers have something that is arguably better: dozens of committed crew members ready to step up, donate and help on the journey to make the community a happier place.
Lisa Rogers, office manager at Hunter Stone, said she and the crew look forward to working as a team each holiday season to collect supplies for Mike and Jes and that it is rewarding to deliver the toys all over town.
“Mike is an extraordinary individual. His commitment to the local area goes above and beyond. He and his wife have managed to help many families throughout our community,” Rogers said. “The joy brought to these families is immeasurable and deeply appreciated by all.”
Jes knows the work she and her husband do relies on good people like the ones who work at Martin Marietta.
“I couldn’t do what I do without the crew at Hunter Stone. From the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank everyone at Martin Marietta enough,” she said through tears of gratitude. “For years, they have been by our side on this, helping and willing to give back to our neighbors who have so little.”
“Lisa, the crew, everyone has been just amazing over the years. They care about these kids and want to help us make it special for them,” he said.
And it certainly is a unique event.
Around town you won't see this Kris Kringle gliding in on any reindeer.
No, Mike says he drives something a bit more modern.
“The kids get real excited, especially when they see me pull up in my red Harley Davidson Ultra,” Mike said with a smile. “That’s my version of a little red sleigh.”
But, this December, the gift delivery was not the only big thing happening for Mike.
At the end of the month, after 20 years with the company, Mike retired.
“Not only is Mike a mentor, trainer and one of our go-to employees, he and his wife also give up their own time to the community to help families with their needs,” said Pat Kinser, plant manager at Hunter Stone. “He and Jes, with the support of Martin Marietta, have done a tremendous job over the years. We are proud to have had Mike at Martin Marietta and in our community!”