D. Smitty Smith, also known as Smitty Claus, founded the nonprofit Claus with a Cause in 2010. Every year, he raises funds through Santa Claus appearances at events and private parties and spends the money on needed items and gifts for underprivileged and homeless kids and mothers in Northern Nevada. He’ll be at Ceol Irish Pub, 538 S. Virginia St., for the bar’s charity caroling competition at 8 p.m. on Dec. 16. Learn more at www.clause4acause.org or http://bit.ly/2AOy7mL.
Tell me a bit about Claus with a Cause.
It’s a charity that I put together, and I do different Santa appearances—whether it’s photos with Santa or office parties, house parties. Of course, Ron [McCarty, the owner] at Ceol is kind enough to host the annual Caroling with a Cause. And then I do a big fundraiser, which we did last week at Vino 100. I donate all of the monies that I make to my charity—but the main benefactor is … the Domestic Violence Resource Center. They have three shelters for the moms and the kids. I get a list of wants, needs, colors, sizes, and I go shopping for them for Christmas. My wife and I go shop, and then we wrap them, via the help of our elves. And then we actually deliver them to the shelters on Christmas Eve. It’s very cool.
That is cool. What kind of stuff do you end up delivering—clothes, toys?
I get that list of wants, needs, colors—but they’re usually clothes. And then the wants are anything from Barbies to basketballs, anything a kid from one to 18 would want. We do our best to fulfill the needs. They went from one shelter to three shelters. For several years, we took care of about 35 to 40 people. Now we’re looking at 60 to 80—between the moms and the kids. … We also help sponsor the Christmas party for the Kids Kottage. With Cami Thompson and a group of carolers, we go over there and sing Christmas carols, and have as many as we need—50 or 60—stockings full of goodies and cookies Mrs. Claus makes and stuffed animals and puzzles, stuff to keep the kids busy. Last Friday we went to this preschool over in Sun Valley. They had actually called to see how much a Santa would cost. When she explained to me that 90 percent of them were on vouchers, I said, “Well, just give me time, and I’ll be there.” We showed up with 48 stockings for them too, which was really cool. We read “The Night Before Christmas” and sang some Christmas carols and handed out stockings and then I went on my merry way.
I feel like you have an affinity with Saint Nick, and you do advertise that the beard is the real deal.
And that’s kind of how it came about. You know, my hair kept getting whiter and whiter. And my buddy said, “Hey, you’re crazy if you don’t start taking advantage of this by being a Santa.” … I got to thinking about it, and it’s like, “Well, as much as we all love money, the world needs a lot more love than it needs money.” I decided instead of capitalizing on it, I thought I’d take what the good Lord and Mother Nature made me look like and do some good with it. It’s very gratifying.