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12/11/07 4:37 PM ET

Maine highlights Mets' holiday party

Righty gives out presents to kids as Santa at charity event

NEW YORK -- Rarely has John Maine looked so jolly.

Clad in his winter's best -- red suit, elf hat, beard and glasses -- Maine transformed into Santa Claus on Tuesday afternoon at Shea Stadium's Diamond Club. He may not have had Santa's gut -- probably a good thing for his prospects on the mound next season -- but he did have cheer.

And he did have presents.

Maine, along with "elves" Oliver Perez and manager Willie Randolph, was on hand Tuesday to celebrate the holidays with children from seven public schools throughout New York City's five boroughs. Each student received a present from Maine, with popular gifts including toy cars, dolls, coloring sets and Transformers.

"Something like this means so much to the kids," Maine said. "If I'm in a position to just bring a smile to a face or make someone happy, it's the right thing to do. It feels good."

So imagine how the kids felt. They all received an opportunity to meet some of their heroes, and gathered together to perform holiday songs and eat lunch before Santa Maine's arrival. And while not everything was perfect -- Maine had some unexpected trouble keeping his beard attached -- the effect certainly was.

Maine became the latest in a long list of Mets Santas that over the years has included David Wright, Cliff Floyd and Kris Benson.

This year's party was just one of many Mets charitable efforts over the holiday season, and one of two major events Maine and Perez are supporting while they're in town. On Wednesday, the two pitchers are teaming up with SportsNet New York, DHL and New York Cares for the team's second annual coat drive, which runs through Thursday evening.

Last year's effort netted New York Cares over 2,000 coats, and this year's drive has the same incentive -- any fan who comes to donate a coat will receive a voucher redeemable for two tickets to a select home game in April.

Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.