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Opinion: A good imitation of Santa Claus

Jim Maxwell doesn’t look like Santa Claus, but when Christmas rolls around, he walks the Santa walk and talks the Santa talk.

Maxwell is the founder and CEO of Agriland Farming Co., Inc., in Chowchilla.

Most of us would not think the North Pole to be in Chowchilla, but Maxwell, 70, runs his Santa operation out of there.

He doesn’t have a white beard, or reindeer or a sleigh, but he packs around $100 bills which are almost as good.

This year, he and his firm provided funding for small acts of kindness, including Christmas surprises in which people who thought they were going to get traffic tickets wound up getting $100 bills instead.

This required help from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, whose officers, cooperating in the scheme, pulled people over and gave them a good scare about their driving.

Then, instead of getting a ticket, the unhappy motorists got $100 bills instead. Whoa! No more unhappy motorists!

It’s a great Yuletide trick, and it garnered favorable publicity for Madera in the media in many markets around the country, even on Good Morning America and Fox News.

Being a good citizen is nothing new to Maxwell, who was honored last year by the Sequoia Council of the Boy Scouts of America as the Central Valley Distinguished Citizen at a banquet for 300 people at Pardini’s in Fresno.

The money raised by the banquet is used to send needy youngsters to Scout Camp.

At the banquet, Maxwell was praised for his many acts of kindness to others, a result not only of his many years in Scouting, but also of the leadership rolls he has played in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for which he has been a bishop of two congregations (wards).

Among awards he and his company have received is one presented by the Migrant Worker and Head Start Program for leadership in promoting compassionate care of his employees and their families.

He promotes health among his workers, and provides scholarships for many of their children.

As part of its community outreach, Agriland provides Christmas dinners for the needy and passes out truckloads of Christmas presents to families in need.

No, Maxwell doesn’t look like Santa, but he does a good impression.

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The next “holiday” coming up is Valentine’s Day, which reminds me of the two television antennae who met on a roof, fell in love and got married. Their wedding wasn’t much, but the reception was awesome!

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