When your town's food pantries need a boost for the holidays, who better to call than Santa Claus himself?

When your town's food pantries need a boost for the holidays, who better to call than Santa Claus himself?

And if he's not available, then a Medford city councilman will certainly do.

Councilman James Kuntz donned the white beard and red suit and braved the cold and a glut of drivers Thursday night on Greystone Court in an effort to collect food donations and money for ACCESS Inc.'s annual holiday food drive.

"We've collected 2,000 pounds of food so far," said Greystone Court resident Doug Rush. "The drive usually runs four days, but we are adding a fifth day this year."

The extra day was in response to reports that local food pantries have been running low this year.

Last year the food drive yielded $23,237 and 22,547 pounds of food for needy families.

The residents of Greystone Court, who pride themselves on their impressive light display, have been working with ACCESS Inc. for eight years.

"When we first started the lights we thought to ourselves that it would be a good opportunity to do something for the community," Rush said. "We had a lot of cars coming through here and saw this as a good chance to help during the holidays."

A parade of cars rolled through the cul-de-sac Thursday night, with nearly every car handing out canned food or cash.

Kuntz traded candy canes for food and money, much to the delight of the kids who waved to him from the backs of their parents' cars.

The drive will continue until Christmas Eve. Anyone who wants to drop off food can do so in the large barrels placed at the end of the cul-de-sac. The hours are between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.

ACCESS Inc. asks for nonperishable items such as pasta and canned food.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.