Chattanooga man helps Santa bring Christmas cheer to needy children

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — A Chattanooga man has been helping Santa Claus for more than three decades, delivering Christmas gifts to Tennessee Valley children in need.

He’s spending Christmas Eve finishing up his deliveries.

You can call him “Secret Santa.”

“They never know. They never see me,” says Carlos Dempsey.

For the past 33 years, Carlos Dempsey has been delivering bicycles and winter coats to children in need for Christmas.

“In 1983, a friend of mine got custody of his three grandchildren, and they wanted bikes for Christmas. They were poor and didn’t have the money, so I rounded up some used ones, took them down on Christmas Eve about midnight, put them on the front porch, and left. They never knew where they came from,” says Dempsey.

Whether the bikes come from Dempsey or the real Santa Claus, he says he loves surprising the kids.

It’s become a Christmas tradition for him.

Dempsey adds, “I ride around on Christmas Day to where I delivered them just to see the kids on them riding around.”

Residents either donate the bikes, or give Dempsey the money to buy them.

He collects anywhere from 50 to 200, and delivered about 60 bikes this year.

“There’s so many things going on, you know, with the tragedies, and there’s other non-profits that people donate to. I’m just glad to get what I can get though,” he says.

No matter how many kids he’s helped, Dempsey says he’s just glad he could make their Christmas special, even if the kids don’t know who he is.

“It makes my Christmas just seeing their smiling faces when they’re riding. They’ll ride when it’s rainy, cold, snowing, doesn’t matter. They’ll be on the bicycles.”

Dempsey says he usually starts collecting the bikes and coats in September, but he’ll take donations anytime.

If you’d like to donate, contact News 12’s Chip Chapman at

Categories: Chattanooga, Local News

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