PAUL "EARTHQUAKE" Moore, a former boxer turned soul-of-Southwest-Philly activist, is a force-of-nature food and toy gatherer during the holidays.
He gave turkey-and-trimmings Thanksgiving dinners to 80 needy families - food he collected by sitting outside a big rental truck for 24 hours in the cold, inviting compassionate people to fill it.
They did. Afterward, Moore thanked major food donors Barbara Capozzi, a South Philly real estate agent; Pasco Inc., a Southwest Philly scrap metal recycler, and the Island Super Market on Woodland Avenue near Island Avenue, which donated 10 turkeys and fed Moore cheesesteaks and coffee all night long.
Yesterday, while most people were focused on Black Friday, Moore morphed into "Community Claus" to start collecting new toys that he will deliver on Christmas Eve to needy families.
To choose the families, Moore runs a Southwest Philly-style North Pole out of his house and out of the New Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on Woodland Avenue near 70th Street, where he is an associate minister.
Moore, 56, an 18-year city sanitation worker, invites families in need to write a letter to Community Claus and mail it to: Earthquake Moore; P.O. Box 5323; Philadelphia, PA 19142.
Moore's wife a/k/a Mrs. Community Claus reads the letters and helps Moore choose which families will get the toys.
"We pray on it, we argue about it and Mrs. Claus wins in the end," Moore said, laughing. His belly shook like a bowl full of jelly.
Community Claus rides SEPTA to public housing developments because Moore - "I'm the first black Santa to ride SEPTA" - wants low-income African-American children to be able to take a photo with Santa for free. "Their families can't afford to pay $25 at the mall," Moore said.
His 20 years of community service has always been done on an intimate, personal scale.
Moore's 2014 pre-Thanksgiving "Celebrity Turkey Run" down Woodland Avenue from 49th Street to Island Avenue consisted of himself, his nephew Tommy Moore, and 12th District Police Officer Adrian Hospedale, a hero cop who has won the George Fencl Award for outstanding community service.
The three runners garnered canned goods donations to feed poor families during the holidays. Moore is always foraging for canned goods because he knows that hunger in Philadelphia never takes a holiday.
He comes from a family of 12, knew poverty as a child, and always liked to imitate preachers.
"My mom always said to me, 'You're going to be the preacher in the family,'" Moore recalled.
"I said, 'Not me.' Now look at me. I am one. That's me all my life. And it makes me a happy man."