'Sandy Claus' still spreading joy to storm victims

Tim Fleischer reports on one man's mission to help in the recovery effort
October 29, 2013 2:46:18 PM PDT
They were images that quickly went viral: a man dressed as Santa, delivering toys in the middle of Sandy's damage.

He made sure there was a holiday for thousands of children last year, and his help has continued year-round.

'Sandy Claus' is making his list and checking it twice, getting ready this Christmas to again bring joy to thousands of young Sandy victims who still need a little help.

"It's really taken hold throughout the whole Sandy affected region," said Michael Sciaraffo.

A year ago, plowing through storm debris, Sandy Claus, a.k.a. Michael Sciaraffo, began spreading holiday joy to so many who lost so much.

"Michael stepped into our lives and he was kind enough to come dressed as Santa," said parent Theresa Cataldo.

And with toys for Theresa's daughter Cassandra. They had lost their Rockaway home to Sandy.

"We're going to have lots of kids involved this year getting toys, and our goal is to get toys into their hands," said Sciaraffo.

To do that the "Secret Sandy Claus Project" has a rapidly growing Facebook network of elves volunteering and donating.

And you can even go on his page to help him match toys to children.

"I could never have found my elves without Facebook, and that's why it is crucial to make this whole thing work," Sciaraffo said.

Michael's work though continues throughout the year, organizing walks to encourage additional Sandy relief programs, and donating items to families, including much needed appliances and air conditioners.

There was also Christmas in August.

"It's been an unbelievable experience to be able to do this for kids, help parents to be able to put the pieces of their lives back together any way I can," said Sciaraffo.

"He did so much, and he's remained in our lives, that's the most beautiful part of it," said Cataldo.

A generosity that started with toys.

"If we can replace every toy that every kid lost in Sandy, I will be happy," said Sciaraffo.

So again this Christmas, 'Sandy Claus' will bring to even more families a new beginning beyond the storm's rainbow.


  • Visit The Secret Sandy Claus Project Facebook page to get involved.

  • Volunteers can sign up to be Santas or elves by using this web form.

  • Children can be signed for toys by filling out this form.

  • Visit Michael's Go Fund Me page to donate money towards gas and tolls to complete this project for Christmas.