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Four-Year-Old Boone Resident Koen Maynard Spread Christmas Cheer this Holiday Season with “Operation Christmas Kindness”

Koen Maynard with his framed WAMY gift.

By Joe Johnson

Koen Maynard, a four-year-old from Boone who loves Ghostbusters and his meemaw, continuously approached his parents over the past two years to tell them that he wanted to be Santa Claus. At first, the Maynards thought Koen’s desire to be Santa Claus was a cute gesture that was soon forgotten; after Koen kept returning to say he wanted to be like Santa, his parents thought there might be something more to Koen’s statements. “Koen said he wanted to spread Christmas cheer because of the movie Klaus he had watched several times in the season,” said Koen’s father, Barry Maynard, “Koen wanted to be like the mailman who teamed up with a guy named Klaus to make the feuding town a team again.”

Koen and his parents, McKenzie Anderson and Barry Maynard, came up with a plan to help Koen fulfill his dream of being Santa Claus this Christmas season called “Operation Christmas Kindness” with the goal of raising $200 to donate to the local WAMY Community Action Organization before Christmas. During Operation Christmas Kindness, Koen dressed up like Santa and his father dressed as an elf as they passed out sleigh bells to Boone residents containing a picture of Koen and his purpose behind raising money: to help kids get toys for Christmas. Their hope was that people would see Koen and learn about his drive to create happiness for others, causing them to make a donation to WAMY. Along with the fundraising done in-person, the family set up a Facebook page as well as a fundraising account to help reach their goal.

Koen was in his element once the fundraiser got started, interacting, learning, and meeting the people of Boone during Operation Christmas Kindness. The community responded with enthusiasm and generosity to the efforts of Koen and his parents when they learned the story behind the fundraiser; even Santa himself was impressed by Koen’s thoughtfulness. “We saw Santa Claus at the mall and he was so excited to see Koen dressed up like Santa and a grown man dressed up like an elf,” said Barry Maynard, “Santa said ‘Hop in my sleigh and take a picture! It’s no charge for you guys.’”

 Operation Christmas Kindness did not reach the $200 fundraising goal before Christmas day, however, employees at WAMY were more than happy to help Koen reach his goal by coming together to donate the rest of the money. They felt that it was important for Koen to be able to set this altruistic goal for himself and be able to meet his own expectations. “When Koen brought in his check and we found out what all he had been doing for us and for the community, we were all so touched that he is only four years old and has such a huge heart already,” said Ashley Cook, Development Director at WAMY, “We at WAMY decided to all donate to help him reach his $200 goal and we wanted him to come back here so we could tell him in person, give him a plaque, and thank him. WAMY is all about people helping people.”

Operation Christmas Kindness and Koen Maynard serve as local examples of the power behind the holiday spirit. Bringing people together, spreading joy, and making a positive impact in the lives of others is what the Christmas season is all about! “I’m super proud of Koen, he has such a good heart,” said McKenzie Anderson, Koen’s mother, “It took my 4-year-old’s Christmas wish to make his parents and those around him see that because of the hustle and bustle in life, sometimes we lose sight of the strangers that surround us in the very town we live in. One good deed or act of kindness always sparks another!”

Ashley Cook, Development Director at WAMY, presents Koen with a token of the organization’s appreciation for his fundraising efforts.


The staff at WAMY poses for a picture with Koen

Charlie Wallin, Watauga County Commissioner and board member at WAMY also stop by the WAMY offices to congratulate Koen on his good work.