On the east side of Indianapolis, Rose Campbell is the embodiment of holiday magic for the students at Anna Brochhausen School 88.
Even without a sled and nine reindeer, Campbell – fondly known as “Mrs. Claus” – makes sure the school’s halls are an enchanting and whimsical experience, filled with the magic of the holiday season.
Much like her holiday namesake, Campbell generously provides gifts to children within the school community. With a heart as warm as her festive title suggests, she ensures that no child is left without a thoughtful surprise.
And because of her efforts – and maybe thanks to the word of mouth of a few elves – she has become a local legend, spreading cheer and warmth during the holiday season and earning the affection of students, families, and the entire school community.
“I’ve had the privilege of assisting the neediest students and their siblings for several years now,” she said. “Recently I was driving through a fast-food place and there was a worker whom I had helped so many years ago. She looked up and got so excited. She just yelled ‘Aren’t you Mrs. Claus?’”
The inspiration for this journey stems from a personal tragedy in 1987, the loss of her daughter. During that difficult time, she experienced the generosity of others as an angel tree family, relying on food pantry provisions for sustenance. Fueled by the kindness her family received, she pledged to return that generosity to others in need.
She collaborates with the Angel Tree program at several Starbucks to obtain many of the gifts. Currently, Campbell is working with 80 children, impacting more than 20 families. Then she works with an IPS liaison and district social worker to review their list (and check it twice) to get the correct clothing sizes, Christmas wishes, favorite sports, music, superheroes, and hobbies of each child.
“The collaboration doesn’t come without challenges,” she said. “One year, we faced the obstacle of not being able to put up a Christmas tree at one family’s home. Nevertheless, we persevered, ensuring that no child was left without a special holiday surprise.”
Mrs. Claus is renowned for her exceptional gift-wrapping skills. She spends countless hours meticulously wrapping each present with care and precision – often in the workshop at her home. It is said that the magic in her touch ensures that every gift is beautifully presented, adding an extra touch of wonder to Christmas.
And often joining her are her family of elves, including her husband, Terry Campbell; son, Jeffrey Campbell; and daughter-in-law, Marissa Campbell.
While the holiday season is often difficult for many families, Mrs. Claus’s stories are heartwarming and impactful.
“Each year brings new challenges, such as trying to bring together siblings affected by a difficult divorce or fulfilling unique requests for specific food items,” she said. “But the rewards are immeasurable. The personal gratification derived from spreading love, teaching conflict resolution, and showing care to these children goes beyond any tangible measure. I firmly believe that investing in the well-being of our youth is the key to solving broader social problems.”
This year, a student at Anna Brochhausen wished for a Christmas tree. Campbell pointed out – with a smile – that the request served as a poignant reminder that sometimes the simplest gifts bring the greatest joy.
And in the spirit of the season, saying “yes” to their heartfelt requests becomes not just a duty for Mrs. Claus but a privilege.