Vicki Kharitonov believes in Santa Claus. He's already made his annual trek to her shop, Salon Issaquah. Each year this Santa makes an appointment — under the name of Mr. Claus — and gets his...

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Vicki Kharitonov believes in Santa Claus. He’s already made his annual trek to her shop, Salon Issaquah.

Each year this Santa makes an appointment — under the name of Mr. Claus — and gets his naturally brown hair and beard spruced up for the holidays.

“Santa gets fixed up in the back of the salon,” Kharitonov said. “It never fails. About the time his hair and beard are snowy white, some kid spots him.”

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Even though Santa arrives in his workshop overalls, his blue eyes twinkle and he welcomes children who shyly approach his side.

“One year a woman was driving by the salon, and her son caught a glimpse of Santa,” Kharitonov said. “She came in the store with her son, apologizing because the son — who was about 5 — made her stop the car so they could come in to see Santa.

“She was so surprised to find out her son was right. Santa was there in the back, waiting for her son with a candy cane.”

Santa’s helpers

Santa and the Marine Corps Foundation’s Toys for Tots got some help from more than 100 local women Thursday when Tana Martin-Greenburg, Nancy Brown and Susan Newman hosted Girls’ Night Out With A Twist II.

Entry to the martini/cookie-exchange party was a plate with two dozen cookies and a toy.

“The Marines brought out four huge boxes. I didn’t think we’d ever fill them,” said Martin-Greenburg. “We only put two boxes out at first, but they filled up fast, so we put the other two boxes out. They were overflowing with wonderful toys. People who couldn’t come to the party itself dropped off toys.”

The three friends held the first Girls Night Out With A Twist last year at Martin-Greenburg’s Yarrow Point house. They learned from that experience.

So many women came that the cookie plates filled every available surface. It was such fun, filled with laugher and conversation, that this year the three women erected a 10-by-10-foot party tent in the back yard. They also hired a bartender to mix martinis. Spouses learned something, too.

They learned to say no.

“Last year my husband, Lou Greenburg, and Susan’s husband, Carl, were the bartenders. They said never again and weren’t even at the party this year,” Martin-Greenburg said.

The three friends hope to expand the party and the giving next year.

Party report

Sarah Catteral of Redmond raised more than $600 at her birthday party Friday evening.

If you recall from Saturday’s column, the 5-year-old requested no presents. She wanted money to help pay for eye surgery for Adrian Gonzalez-Perez of West Seattle. Even with the eye surgeon donating his time and talent, the immigrant’s family doesn’t have the nearly $2,000 needed for the cornea transplant.

Catteral’s parents, Colleen and Andy, expect more donations this week as adult family friends drop off checks. Donations also can be made through the Northwest Lions Foundation for Sight & Hearing Web site at by clicking on the icon for Sarah’s birthday gift.

Interesting footnote — when local television stations covered the birthday party, her parents reluctantly turned on the news to see the story. Seeing TV news was a first for Sarah.

“We don’t do television,” Colleen Catteral said. The family has a television for videos, but rarely watches regular programs. “We’re old-fashioned,” she said.

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or