There’s a new Santa Claus in town. His name is Paul "Earthquake" Moore, but children in southwest Philadelphia neighborhoods have come to know him as the Community Claus.
“I call myself Community Claus because I’m a community activist. This the time of year suicides are up, the elderly are lonely, and people need comfort,” Moore said.
So every year, Moore assumes the role of Community Claus. Dressed in a traditional Santa Claus suit, hat and beard, he hosts a series of events, giving small gifts to residents in some of Philadelphia’s most underprivileged communities.
Moore wears many hats. For the past 17 years Moore has served as a sanitation worker for the City of Philadelphia. He’s also the chair of the Southwest Community Development Corporation (SWCDC) and an associate pastor at the New Fellowship Baptist Church.
But Moore says he believes his most important duty is to bring joy to his community.
“I believe in my heart that this is what God wants me to do; to bring a little hope to these kids who can’t afford to go pay to see some Santa Claus. It’s all about bringing joy to children and people and to make them happy,” Moore said.
Moore says he hopes to serve as an option for parents who can’t afford to pay for their children to take photos with Santa Claus in a traditional mall setting. While he does accept donations at his events, Moore does most of his events using his own funds and at no charge to the public.
“You usually have to go to the mall and pay $25 to take a picture with Santa Claus. Everybody can’t afford that but kids still need to be able to have that experience. So, if you come to community Claus you can take your own picture for free,” he said.
This year, Moore is also accepting donations to grant the Christmas list wishes of five families in Philadelphia.
He’s also spreading holiday cheer around the city through a series of events and appearances. Last week, Moore greeted SEPTA riders on the #11 Trolley and the Market Frankford El Train, proclaiming himself as the “first African-American Santa Claus to ever serve the role as Santa Claus using Septa transportation as his sleigh.”
Though SEPTA did not officially sponsor the appearance, a spokesman for SEPTA said, “It really must have been a fun surprise for our riders to see someone dressed like Santa spreading some holiday cheer.”
This Wednesday, Moore will be giving out gifts in front of the 12th District police station on Woodland Avenue.
Captain of the 12th police district, John Moroney, said his unit enjoys partnering with Moore for community events.
“We partner with him all the time and he helps us out a lot. He does a lot behind the scenes. He’s a really good guy,” Moroney said.
Moore says he hopes his efforts catch on in other cities and encourage people to showcase Santa Clauses of all cultures.
“You always see Caucasian Santa Clauses, but you never see other ethnic groups as Santa Claus. I don’t see white Santa Clauses going to the projects. So, I said we need to have a Santa Claus that don’t mind going into any community. I want kids to know that Santa Claus comes in all shapes, sizes and colors,” he said.
“My thing is to spread the joy around the city and around the world. If people see what I’m doing, maybe they’ll catch on and do it somewhere else too.”