When kids would come up and say, “Santa, you aren’t from the North Pole!” Stanley Brooks, Jr. would reply and say, “No, I’m from the South Point.” As a man who was born and raised in Waiohinu, Brooks was proud of his Hawaiian roots and culture as the 9th Generation to Kalaniopu’u o Moku o Keawe. He believed that many kids on the island needed a Santa that looked and talked like them. For kids in the community who came from broken families and financial hardship, he wanted to give them hope and faith by connecting with them as the Santa from Hawai'i. If he overheard parents or grandparents saying, “No, we can’t afford a photo with Santa,” he freely invited the family to spend time with him. He strongly believed that every kid should have a chance to talk to Santa.
For seventeen years, Brooks was the Santa at the Prince Kuhio Mall in Hilo during the holiday season. In the past three years during the pandemic, Ala Moana Shopping Center on Oahu recruited him as the Hawaiian Santa. For ten years, he also volunteered as the Santa every Christmas morning for homeless families and children in Downtown Hilo. It was his joy and passion to share his love with the children.
Because Brooks was a very quiet, reserved man from Ka’u who usually sits in the back of the church and never wants attention to himself, his wife, Madeline Maluhia (Babs) Brooks, was very surprised when he first agreed to be the Santa. She shared, however, that he developed a special talent with children over the years. Even as his health worsened, he overcame his pain and worked to be the Santa for the community. He quietly passed away on May 29, 2023 in Pahala.
Babs has multiple experiences with hospice, not only as a volunteer, but also as the caregiver for her father-in-law, her mother, and her husband (who was admitted in March 2023). She has always been an advocate for hospice due to her positive experience from the program. Nonetheless, she mentioned, “It’ll be difficult this year for my son and me during the holiday season with the absence of our beloved Santa.”
Walking through the grief journey is not an easy one, so Babs continues to participate in Hawai'i Care Choices bereavement program with her keiki. She hopes to share her love and faith with the community, as her husband did during his lifetime. Please join her at the Season of Light event on December 13, 2023 6pm at Wailoa State Park where all who are grieving loss during this season will come together for a community memorial vigil to honor our loved ones.