Getting to the Heart of Christmas with Santa Sam

By Mallory Perkins
December 19, 2014
Samuel Love

Most kids spend days making their Christmas list, dreaming of all the toys Santa might bring. But 11-year-old Samuel Love’s Christmas list looks a little different – it’s filled with items for other children. After feeling moved by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Samuel, a fifth grade student from Chicago, started a toy drive for kids in need. “I wanted to give to them instead of myself,” Samuel said.

This year he was looking to raise $2,500 in toys for the victims of natural disasters. As part of Getting to the Heart of Christmas, the Walmart team at store 3601 in Crestwood, Ill., and The TODAY Show helped Samuel give back to his South Chicago community by fulfilling 100 Angel Tree wish lists on his behalf and delivering more than 100 additional toys to children in the community. The store also gave him $2,500 in Walmart gift cards to buy toys for children in Arkansas who were affected by a tornado earlier this year. Of course, we wanted Santa Sam to receive a gift of his own, so Walmart surprised him by fulfilling his own Christmas list.

Take a look at how Samuel’s big day came together. 

A lot of work goes into setting up for Getting to the Heart of Christmas surprises, but it’s always done with big smiles. Walmart associates love giving back to their communities, and we were so eager to reveal our surprise! 

So much fun: While the anticipation was building as we waited for Samuel to arrive at the store for his surprise, the associates broke out into Christmas carols and may have even danced a little. 

He made it to Walmart with The TODAY Show crew, and he was beyond excited!

Jenna Bush Hager with The TODAY Show was loving this time with Samuel!

Next we went to South Suburban Toys where we surprised Santa Sam a second time with over 100 toys that were donated to local children in his honor. He was in disbelief! 

One of Samuel’s happiest moments from the day? Seeing all the kids playing with their new toys. 

Since Samuel is always thinking of others, we decided to surprise him at the end of the day with gifts just for him. You can see as he high-fived his father that he was pumped!

Samuel reminded us what the holidays are truly about, and because of his kindness for others, we were able to really get to the heart of Christmas. Check out the rest of the story from The TODAY Show.