For Jack Branham, being Santa is a yearlong event.

The 66-year-old Mesa man has taken truckloads of donated items to the needy in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, for about 20 years while making monthly trips to tend to rental properties there.

He takes everything from bags of potatoes and bread to clothes and toys. He’s not involved in any organization, and most of his help comes from friends and word of mouth.

"We try to take most anything that we get," Branham said.

Local grocery stores have donated food or offered discounted items in the past. Friends and community residents have traveled with Branham to help hand out the donations.

Usually his trips are a truckload or two. However, some time around Christmas — this year, Dec. 16 — he drives down with a caravan of people, all the vehicles stuffed with donated items.

Branham hands out the items in a community filled with young couples just starting out. Little kids run out to meet him and see what he has for them and follow him as he drives through their dirt roads.

Elloween White heard about Branham through a newspaper article and offered her help with the Sewing for the Needy church group she’s involved with at Church of the Master Presbyterian in Mesa.

The 20 women in the group make layettes, or newborn-baby kits, filled with homemade items such as quilts, crocheted afghans, sweaters and booties. The group makes about 120 a year, and gives about 25 to Branham for his trips.

"He’s a wonderful, wonderful person," White said. "I don’t know anyone that is more giving than Jack Branham."

Donated items can be dropped off at three Mesa locations: Sandy & Sons Automotive, 2830 E. McKellips Road; Branham’s office, 10 N. Parsell St., Suite 2; or Branham’s home, 449 N. 39th Way.

For information, call (480) 832-1400.

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