SAN FRANCISCO -- Brian Wilson picked up his 55th save of the year, and probably his most meaningful one, weeks after baseball season ended.

Wilson provided a holiday party for 50 youths on Dec. 15 at San Francisco's Janet Pomeroy Center, which provides educational, recreational and vocational opportunities for people with disabilities.

The Giants closer couldn't attend the event, but his presence was keenly felt by the guests, who ranged from ages 5 to 20. Wilson not only paid for snacks and gifts for everybody, but also took the necessary steps to make sure Santa Claus showed up to provide entertainment.

The partygoers cheered for Santa as he went on stage. They also yelled in appreciation for Wilson, the right-hander who saved a Major League-high 48 games in the regular season and six more in the postseason for the World Series champion Giants.

The gathering expressed further gratitude with a large painting which depicted him -- dark beard and all -- in the middle of his pitching delivery, about to hurl a wrapped present to Santa, his catcher. "Brian Wilson & Santa save Christmas for the J.P. Center," read the message accompanying the drawing.

"All of us who were there felt really, really lucky to be part of it," said Sheri Nelson, marketing director for KNBR-680, the Giants' flagship radio station.

Nelson explained that the party has been an annual affair but was in danger of not being held this year due to a lack of funds. She expressed her concerns to a representative for Wilson, Kathy Jacobson, who relayed news of the Pomeroy Center's plight to him. From that point, he didn't hesitate to assume costs. Nelson said that the party might have proceeded without Wilson's help, but "it would have been a lot tougher."

"The gift of giving is not about the actual gift itself," Wilson said. "It is not about feeling like you did something good. It is not about looking better in the public's eye. To me, it is about the moment of happiness you can create in a person's life by the simple gesture of letting them know that they matter ... to you."

Such generosity has been typical of Wilson, 28, who often throws himself into various causes with the same energy and enthusiasm he displays on the mound. He has bicycled from Los Angeles to San Diego to benefit the MS (multiple sclerosis) Society. He can be counted on to participate when teammate Barry Zito leads a function for Strikeouts For Troops, the organization the left-hander founded to bring wounded soldiers the comforts of home. Having lost his father to cancer, Wilson has heavily supported efforts to fight the disease.

That's only a fraction of Wilson's philanthropy. Unlike his efforts for the Giants, much of what he does for others occurs far from public view. Of course, attracting attention isn't his goal.

"It is our duty as Americans to help the quality of life in our brothers and sisters," Wilson said. "The gift is the ability to put someone else before you, no matter the situation."