Tony Dill, center, was presented with this year’s Kiwanis of Amory’s Distinguished Service Award. Sen. Hob Bryan Mayor Brad Blalock expressed gratitude for his outstanding service to children and elders in the area.

AMORY – Tony Dill, who has taken on the persona of a local Santa Claus, was honored by Kiwanis of Amory with its Distinguished Service Award May 5 in a ceremony at Vinegar Bend’s pocket park.

He dresses up as Santa Claus during the Christmas season, driven by a big heart for elders and children alike. He’s known for providing fun and photo opportunities for kids in his red farm truck. Dill also presented a poinsettia plant to each resident in Amory’s nursing homes last Christmas - 527 in all.

“There’s no way to put a price tag on the fun I’ve had. I’ve had kids to pull at my beard to make sure it was real,” he said before receiving the award.

Mayor Brad Blalock and Sen. Hob Bryan gave words of appreciation to solemnize the ceremony.

Kiwanis Club member Dian Wilemon said Dill’s name kept coming up in their conversations about whom to honor with the award this year.

“It was suggested to us that we award him Kiwanis’ Distinguished Service Award. We looked it up, and it was a perfect fit. If a child told him that all they wanted for Christmas was a toothbrush or coat, he would see to it that their need was met before the day was over,” she said.

For more than 25 years, Kiwanis Club chapters have presented this award to those who go above and beyond in their service and dedication to their club and community.

Kiwanis Club member Carla Glasgow said Dill’s mission is all about giving to children in need.

“The ones that feel like they are left behind by parents that don’t put their children first grab Dill’s heart. Tony provides a hope through Santa for the children that don’t have hope. His efforts bring smiles and hope to many people that didn’t ask for it but received it. There is a special place in Heaven for people like Tony Dill,” she said.

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