Yukon ‘Santa’ honored for spreading Christmas joy

Santa’s Toy Shoppe’s Jim Poe is ‘Pay It Forward’ honoree

Santa’s Toy Shoppe Board President Jim Poe (center) is recognized as a KFOR-TV “Pay It Forward” honoree during a presentation in October at the Yukon Fire Station. Donna Yanda (second from right) and Homer Cobb (right) of Yanda & Son Funeral Home nominated Poe for the distinction. (Photo by Ashley Sprague)

By Conrad Dudderar

Associate Editor

The chief elf at Santa’s Toy Shoppe has been recognized by a local television station for his efforts spreading Christmas joy for nearly two decades.

Jim Poe, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce’s Volunteer of the Year, was recently selected as a KFOR-TV “Pay It Forward” honoree. The announcement was made in late October at the Yukon Fire Station.

Poe was nominated for the honor by Donna Yanda and Homer Cobb of Yanda & Son Funeral Home.

“Jim selflessly has given of his time over the past 20 years to ensure that those children who are less fortunate can experience the magic of Christmas,” said Yanda, who is Yukon’s vice mayor.

Members of the Yukon Millers’ football team talk about their volunteer participation in the annual Santa’s Toy Shoppe effort. Jim Poe is the driving force behind Santa’s Toy Shope, which has provided Christmas presents to about 16,000 eastern Canadian County children over the past 20 years. (Photo by Ashley Sprague)

“He was nominated because he truly is the Santa of eastern Canadian County. I am so blessed to be able to donate and volunteer for Santa’s Toy Shoppe.”

Santa’s Toy Shoppe encourages people to donate toys to give away at Christmastime to less fortunate children and youth in eastern Canadian County.

Through its “Pay It Forward” program, KFOR and First Fidelity Bank provide $400 for a local charitable cause.

Santa’s Toy Shoppe will doubly benefit this time, with another $400 being contributed by Yanda & Son Funeral Home.

“It’s something we wanted to do to show our appreciation to Jim for everything he does in our community,” Cobb said.


Homer Cobb (right) of Yanda & Son Funeral Home presents Jim Poe with a surprise $400 gift for Santa’s Toy Shoppe. (Photo by Ashley Sprague)

For the past 20 years, Santa’s Toy Shoppe has provided presents at Christmastime for children of underprivileged families in eastern Canadian County. Poe has been involved with this charitable effort since its inception and serves as its board president.

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.

The volunteer-led effort relies on the public’s generosity.

Donations of new, unwrapped toys are collected at drop-off sites like the Yukon Fire Station, banks, medical offices, and businesses across the community.

Nearly 400 families applied this year for the program.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, volunteers will distribute all the donated toys as parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles of recipient children “shop” for presents.

Tax-deductible monetary donations for the holiday effort are welcome. For more information, call Poe at (405) 740-7882.