Dentists' generosity gives Vancouver 'Santa' his smile
A Vancouver, Wa., man with aspirations to be a Santa Claus look-alike is being given a full set of teeth by local dentists.
The (Vancouver) Columbian
A Vancouver man with aspirations to be Santa Claus has but one wish this Christmas: A full set of teeth.
Not only is Marvin Holbert's wish being granted by local dentists, but Christmas is coming early for Santa this year. In the next few weeks, Holbert will have a new smile — a final touch for the 56-year-old Santa look-alike.
Holbert's white and strawberry blond hair stretches past his shoulders, drawing compliments from women in awe of his long locks. His well-kept beard of the same color trumps the artificial Santa beards. His rosy skin complexion, wide (although close-lipped) smile and reading glasses complete the look.
But thanks to the generosity of local dentists, Holbert will soon be able to smile wide when asking children about the contents of their Christmas list.
"I just don't want them to see Santa without teeth," he said. "How do you explain that?"
For 25 years, Holbert worked as an engineer and technician in the semiconductor industry. "And then, everything crashed," he said.
Holbert was laid off. He decided to start his own business, but before he could get it off the ground, the economy crashed. Holbert lost everything.
The situation, coupled with side effects of heart medication, sent Holbert into depression. For the past three years, Holbert has been seeking treatment at SeaMar Community Health Center in Vancouver.
"It's been a lot of work, but I'm coming back," Holbert said.
In the past year and a half, he's slowly been stepping outside of his comfort zone.
He recently started meeting women again. He's trying new things.
One of those new things is dressing up as Saint Nick. After years of hearing comments about his appearance, Holbert decided to put on a red suit and play the part. Last year, he volunteered to be Santa at a couple of private holiday events and loved it.
"I love the expressions on the kids' (faces)," Holbert said. The only problem, Holbert said, is his teeth. But his financial situation left him with few options.
Earlier this year, the staff at SeaMar started reaching out to local dentists for help. Wendel Dental in Vancouver agreed to provide dental care for Holbert free of charge, and the work started Tuesday. The Laboratory of Dental Arts in Vancouver is constructing the dentures at no charge.
"There's no way I could afford it," Holbert said.
With the dental bill taken care of, Holbert is turning his attention to finding paid Santa gigs this holiday season.