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Santa Claus surprises kids visiting Jackson County jail with Christmas gifts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Christmas is just a few days away, but on Thursday, Santa Claus made a special stop to the Jackson County jail.

When Jessica Kroh and her two little ones stepped inside they had no idea the Jolly Old Elf would be waiting for them.

"I was definitely not expecting this today. I was actually kind of having a hard day and feeling pretty down," Kroh said with a huge chuckle.

Santa immediately lifted the Liberty mom's spirit after he surprised her 1-year-old son, Sequoia, with a new miniature Tonka truck that kept the happy toddler on the go. Santa gave Kroh's 3-year-old daughter, Kaleeska, a stuffed bunny and a sidewalk chalk set.

Both holiday surprises made the thankful mom choke back tears.

"Just being able to walk in the jail and have people wanting to give to my kids and me, it really does make me feel loved and cared for and that there's still goodness in the world," Kroh said.

For more than an hour, Santa brightened the boys' and girls' worlds. One by one he gave toys, games, clothes and other gifts to the kids visiting their parents or other loved ones in the Jackson County jail just days before Christmas.

"It made me feel special because I got some cool stuff," 10-year-old Lillyann Blackburn said.

Among the "cool stuff" that put a big smile on Lillyann's face: a stuffed animal the fourth-grader couldn't let go.

"I also got a nice, warm jacket, a hat and a play set. It was actually cool and special," Lillyann said.

The Christmas event that's been spreading joy to kids for 14 years and helping them make the best of a tough time is still sharing the true meaning of Christmas thanks to its organizers, Metropolitan Community-College Penn Valley and Jackson County.

"I definitely think it's a great idea. They should do it every Christmas," Kroh said.