Chris Kerley has never pretended to be Santa Claus before, and when he takes 2,000 toys to Haiti on Christmas Eve he’ll be paying excess baggage fees on American Airlines instead of receiving a free ride on a reindeer-pulled sleigh.
But what Kerley brings to about 1,900 orphans displaced by the January earthquake in Haiti might be just as magical.
Kerley, 36, the director of Cambridge-based Pro EMS Center for MEDICs, will be traveling Friday with four students from the paramedic education program to deliver toys and food to orphaned children between the ages of 3 and 8 who are now living in camps.
“They literally have nothing left in life,” said Kerley, who lives in Burlington. “This is probably the least we can do.”
At a time when some clinics for the earthquake victims have closed for the holidays, Kerley said he and his students will also be traveling to rural clinics near Port au Prince to treat cholera patents, provide basic medical care and try to teach others how to do some basic procedures.
The Center for Medics had already conducted a humanitarian mission to the region earlier this year, in which Kerley and two other paramedics went to the Dominican Republic with a surgical team to treat Haitian refugees.
Kerley said he had his eyes opened to the conditions for the earthquake victims, and that is much of the reason he wanted to return.
The trip Friday is a collaboration between the Center, located on Smith Place in Cambridge, and Boston-based non-profit group Sante Fanm Ak Lafanmi, an organization started by Haitian immigrant Sherline Chery-Morisset, who works as a nurse practitioner at Boston Medical Center.
The Center for Medics has been raising money to pay for the trip and Kerley said part of the mission will also be cooking food for about 2,000 people.
They will be taking a lot of dried foods, such as pasta, that can be prepared when they arrive. The Center will be accepting toys to take to the children until early Christmas Eve when they depart, Kerley said. The toys will be packed into duffel bags and flown down on a commercial flight.
A friend of Kerley’s has already provided a Santa suit that Kerley will wear while handing out toys.
“The exciting part of our trip is to play Santa on Christmas morning,” Kerley said. “This is my first time playing Santa Claus.”
More information about the center can be found online at www.centerformedics.com.