By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Undeterred by the novel coronavirus, Santa Claus is coming to Yukon again this year.
To the relief of eastern Canadian County families in need, Santa’s Toy Shoppe is starting to accept applications from those seeking help to provide their children gifts this Christmas.
“Santa will be around this year; exactly how we’re not sure,” said Yukon’s Jim Poe, president of Santa’s Toy Shoppe, Inc.
Because of virus concerns, Santa’s Toy Shoppe has made some changes this year.
“We are collecting applications only through our website, not by paper, due to COVID,” Poe reported. “We may do it next year the same way.”
Online applications are now being accepted at www.ecctoyshoppe.com. Under “Services,” click on “Application 2020.” Deadline is Nov. 13 and recipient families will be notified Dec. 1.
“Applications in the past have had the mail address on them, but with people doing them by hand, sometimes it’s been hard to read,” Poe explained.
Santa’s Toy Shoppe is an all-volunteer effort that relies on tax-deductible donations from the public. There will be toy drop locations across eastern Canadian County starting soon.
COVID-induced restrictions may present a hurdle in receiving donations at some drop-off sites – like banks, some of which have closed their lobbies.
“We have two confirmed – the Yukon Fire Department and Mustang Fire Department, but we haven’t started contacting businesses yet,” Poe said. “We have records on who collected the most toys last year. Number one was fire departments, number two was schools and number three was banks.”
Santa’s Toy Shoppe, which the Canadian County Salvation Army started in the late 1990s, provides new toys and other gifts for youth from infant to 15 years. Since its inception, Santa’s Toy Shoppe has served more than 17,000 youth.
In a typical year, the charitable program helps some 1,200 children and teens from about 300 families have a bright Christmas.
But this is no typical year, with economic uncertainty and job loss prompted by the pandemic.
Organizers anticipate an “increased need” for the Christmas season, although Poe acknowledged he has “no idea” how many families will seek help this time around.
As such, Poe and his merry crew are looking for new sources for toys, stocking stuffers and monetary gifts.
In previous years, families selected for a Christmas toy project have come to a Yukon venue to “shop” for gifts.
The 2020 distribution is set Saturday, Dec. 12, and the process may change this time around.
“We’re not certain how we’re going to distribute the toys; we may do it on a pre-packaged basis,” Poe said. “We won’t make that decision until about Nov. 1.”
Poe and his dedicated group of volunteer elves will adhere to all Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, including physical spacing and wearing masks and gloves.
Volunteers, drop-off sites and donations are welcome. For more information about helping with Santa’s Toy Shoppe, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Poe at (405) 740-7882.