By Conrad Dudderar
An annual toy distribution this Saturday in Yukon will provide a brighter Christmas for children in early 400 eastern Canadian County families.
This marks the 20th year for Santa’s Toy Shoppe, which provides presents for children and youth from newborn through age 15. The annual program helps underprivileged families who cannot afford to buy such nice gifts.
Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles of recipient children will “shop” for donated toys this Saturday at a designated Yukon location.
“We’ve had just under 400 families who applied this year,” said Santa’s Toy Shoppe President Jim Poe. “We’ve provided Christmas toys for over 5,000 children just in the last four years.”
The Salvation Army came up with the idea for Santa’s Toy Shoppe in the late 1990s and the organization was incorporated in 2001. Over the years, the program has helped spread joy to more than 16,000 youth from newborn to age 15.
Mayor Mike McEachern encouraged residents to drop off new, unwrapped toys at the Yukon fire stations and participating banks, businesses, and medical offices.
Yukon’s mayor has appreciated the efforts of Poe and other volunteers who make the annual Christmas toy distribution effort possible.
“You just can’t believe what a marvelous opportunity that is for the City of Yukon to help folks who are not as fortunate as others by providing toys to a lot of children,” McEachern said.
There’s always a need for more toys, especially for boys age 12-15. More kids’ bicycles are sorely needed since only nine had been donated as of Monday.
WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT
It is those volunteers who make Santa’s Toy Shoppe a success, according to Poe.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “We’ll have anywhere from 100 to 200 volunteers. Right now, we have less than normal so we can use more if anyone can help.”
Groups like the Yukon High School Leadership class, Yukon Millers’ football, soccer and tennis teams, and Good Shepherd United Methodist Church youth always lend a hand.
“We have a lot of people who just want to be part of it,” Poe said.
Poe, who is the Yukon Chamber of Commerce’s Volunteer of the Year and a KFOR-Channel 4 “Pay It Forward” honoree, explained why he’ll be part of Santa’s Toy Shoppe as long as he’s able.
“I get satisfaction knowing that we’re helping provide excitement for these children at Christmastime,” Poe said. “I also enjoy seeing the faces of some of the volunteers who know they are really making a difference for less-fortunate families.”
Anyone who’d like to help with the yuletide effort should call Poe at (405) 740-7882.