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4-year-old Perryville boy donating used toys

  • Pictured is 4-year-old Gunner Hartman, of Perryville, with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus in a recent photo.

    Pictured is 4-year-old Gunner Hartman, of Perryville, with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus in a recent photo.
    Photo provided by Butch Hartman

 
By Pete Spitler
Editor@heraldtrib.com
updated: 12/23/2017 11:31 AM

This is a Christmas story that will warm your heart.

Gunner Hartman is a 4-year-old Perryville boy with a big heart and a loving family. This Christmas, and perhaps for many Christmases to come, he will be giving some of that love to others.

"He's got used toys and I've told him that every time he has a toy he hasn't played with in awhile, then to do something with it," said Gunner's father, Butch Hartman.

That "something" has become an act of generosity to those less fortunate.

During a visit to Hoeckle's Bakery and Deli in Perryville - a Saturday ritual for Gunner and his father - on Dec. 16, the pair got a surprise visit from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.

After telling Santa what he wanted for Christmas, like most children do, Gunner said he was also gathering up his old toys to give to Santa so that Santa could give them to children who don't have any.

"I know there's other kids out there that are doing this, but just a proud dad moment for this," Butch said.

Energetic and quick with a "Merry Christmas" and "I love you," Gunner was helping to make chocolate chip cookies for Santa's upcoming visit at the time of the Herald Tribune's interview.

"I'm proud of how he is," Butch said. "It's not just me and my girlfriend, a lot of people have helped him."

Butch said his son stays active with other community activities such as visiting local assisted living facilities.

"He'll go into a room with one of the residents and sit on their lap and talk to them," he said. "It's his own attitude and his own personality that is coming through with that stuff."

Butch knows a bit about community service himself, as he is a volunteer firefighter with the Perryville Fire Department.

"I've always believed good things come to those who do good things," he said. "(Gunner's) had a strong, loving, family foundation."