Photos with Santa becomes a reality with help of caring volunteers

Children like Lexi, pictured here, were delighted to meet Santa, and get their picture taken with him at Vie Medical Clinic on Monday, December 20, 2021. Photos were emailed to parents the same day. Photo Credit: Amanda Lehman


During this season of giving, caring communities like ours have numerous organizations and individuals who want to pay forward the blessings they have received. One such organization is Vie Medical Clinic in Pittsburg, KS.

On Monday, December 20, 2021, from 9 AM to 3 PM, Vie offered free photos with Santa to all their clients, as well as a shopping opportunity in their boutique for their parenting clients.

This was a way for Vie “to enable [parents] to have this experience that they otherwise would not have,” said Frances Oldweiler, Director. “We wanted to give back to families that we are already serving.”

All the services that Vie offers are free of charge. One of the services is parenting classes. With each completed session, parents receive ‘baby bucks’ that they can use anytime to purchase items in Vie’s boutique. There are a wide variety of items available – all because of donations – including formula, wipes, diapers, clothes, toys and more. These items, and more toys than usual, were available during the Photos with Santa event.

Photos with Santa were made possible by photographer, Amanda Lehman, who is also a registered nurse at Vie, and Pastor Jim Bowles, who volunteered to personify Santa, and Chrislen Newman, who volunteered her time and creative hands helping decorate and wrap presents. Volunteers and staff created a beautiful Christmas scene for photos, complete with presents, two trees and plenty of lights, surrounding a white, country style bench on which Santa sat to receive giddy children, who hoped the big man was paying close attention to their Christmas wishes.

This is the first time that Vie has offered photos with Santa, but not the first time they have offered a photo opportunity for clients. On Mother’s Day 2021, Lehman and Vie offered free photos for mothers and families who were taking part in a class. Because of the heartfelt and sincere thanks from numerous mothers, it became clear that photos are meaningful, a way to build up families and many of Vie’s clients aren’t able to otherwise afford this opportunity. It meant a lot for them to have nice family photos and photos of their children.

Oldweiler summarizes the mission of Vie with a three-part phrase: empower women, help families, and share Jesus. “We are a local resource, here to do just that,” she says. “We offer our services for free, as an extension of sharing the love of Jesus. We don’t want financial means to be a reason that you don’t get care, good care. We are hoping to meet people just where they are.”

Frances says “empowering women” at Vie happens, “with knowledge and simply being there for them, listening to them. Sometimes iti’s not even related to what we offer, but we are the ones they come in and talk to – and we listen.”

Vie helps families, “Primarily through our parenting classes. We have our shopping boutique up front that helps parents ease some of their financial burdens. Parents who take and complete parenting class sessions earn ‘baby bucks’ to go shopping for items in our boutique, including diapers, wipes, formula, and clothes. We are also hoping to do more things like today’s event where we can offer smaller, but meaningful experiences for families who couldn’t do so otherwise.”

Vie shares Jesus, “In a variety of ways. We share the Gospel message to anyone who is willing. We approach everyone with open arms, love, and acceptance of them no matter where they are at in life or what choices they have made. We are here, ready to love them and walk this road with them.”

Lehman adds, “We also help connect our clients with other community organizations, for whatever they need.”

Oldweiler continued, “Crawford County is blessed with a number of agencies ready to help. We can help women find access to formula, diapers, transportation, food, and meals. One program through the health department, upon completing their program, they give you a free car seat, and the police department shows you how to properly install it in your car. Another program will give you a week’s worth of clothing for your child, and another will give you a package of diapers and wipes a month.”

The photo opportunity on Monday was also a fundraising event for Vie. John A. Tersinar, Modern Woodmen of America (MWA), Girard, KS, was looking for one more opportunity to provide up to $1,000 matching funds donation from the MWA Foundation before the end of the year. Through word of mouth, Tersinar and Vie connected and Vie was approved to receive up to $1,000 in matching funds, provided they reached that amount during the Photos with Santa campaign.

“We are happy to report that we received $1,250 from generous donors for Photos with Santa. We are thrilled and grateful that John and the MWA Foundation are matching $1,000,” remarked Oldweiler. “As with all donations, these end of year donations are very helpful and will go to help women and families in need in our community. Thank you to all who gave. And Merry Christmas!”