Signing Santa brings holiday cheer to deaf kids

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by Maggie O'Mara

WVEC.com

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 23 at 5:21 PM

BOISE -- Kids of all ages look forward to it every Christmas - a visit with Santa Claus. And each year, one of Santa's helpers is making sure deaf kids in the Treasure Valley get that chance too.

For 20 years now Santa has been sending Sonny Cabbage on a special mission -- to communicate with deaf and hard of hearing kids, using sign language.

"Santa is so busy, it's really close to Christmas, so he has to stay with the elves in the workshop and make sure everything's ready and that everything's ready for Christmas, so I'm a Santa's Helper," said Sonny.

This past week, Sonny visited with kids at River Valley Elementary School in Meridian.

"So he's a wonderful role model for the kids and because he signs fluently he was just kind of the perfect person to be a Santa's helper," said Jill Muir, educational specialist for the deaf.

For Sonny, the mission to help kids connect with Santa is a personal one.

"Well, I'm deaf myself, and I was born into an all deaf family. My parents are deaf and I've always been in the deaf community my whole life," he said. "For me, this is a wonderful opportunity for deaf children to really meet Santa and really communicate with Santa."

Parents appreciate Sonny's special gifts too.

"There's only one, I mean you can't go anywhere else and find a Santa that can sign, so it's pretty special," said parent Tara Adams.

For Sonny, volunteering to do this every year for the Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and Blind is a Christmas tradition.

"It's special for me because growing up as a kid myself, and I would go to the mall, you know, we'd go to see Santa. We would just get candy from him. We'd get a candy cane, we weren't able to communicate," said Sonny.

The kids love it and they love the fact that he can sign with them so that their wish lists get to Santa.

"Some of them are just absolutely shocked and they just can't say a word," said Sonny. "But then, some are so excited and they can't stop talking. It's really fun to see their different responses." 

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