By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
With drop sites limited due to COVID-19, Santa’s Toy Shoppe needs help more than ever to provide Christmas gifts for 400-plus eastern Canadian County families, organizers say.
Santa’s Toy Shoppe annually helps people in need by providing new toys and other gifts at Christmastime. Since its inception in the late 1990s, the program has served more than 17,000 youth from infant to age 15.
Organizers are preparing for two toy distribution days – Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12-13.
“We’ve had over 400 families request toys,” said Yukon’s Jim Poe, president of Santa’s Toy Shoppe.
Previously there have been dozens of drop locations across eastern Canadian County for supporters to leave their toy donations. But pandemic-prompted protocols have restricted or eliminated many previous drop-off sites.
Even the largest toy sources, the Yukon and Mustang fire departments, have reported lower-than-normal gift giving.
“They’ve had minimal contributions,” Poe said. “We have lost some of our donation sites, not because they’ve gone out of business, but because people aren’t going there (due to virus concerns).”
Banks are typically the second-best toy drop-off spots, but many have closed their lobbies during the pandemic. Nursing homes also are closed to outside visitors, eliminating more toy donation sites.
‘WE NEED EVERYTHING’
With local schools and other organizations (like Yukon’s Best Main Street) having collection drives, Poe hopes there will be enough toys for all the good little girls and boys served by Santa’s Toy Shoppe.
“The quantity will probably be less this year,” Poe noted.
Santa’s Toy Shoppe is an all-volunteer effort that relies on tax-deductible donations from the public.
“We need everything,” Poe said, matter-of-factly.
Among specific items requested are Lego sets, soccer balls, basketballs, and rod and reel fishing sets.
“Anything for boys ages 8-10,” Poe emphasized.
New, unwrapped toys – along with stocking stuffers and gift cards – are always welcome.
In previous years, families selected for the charitable Christmas program have come to a Yukon venue to “shop” for toys.
The process may change this time, with toys being pre-packaged for families instead.
“We’re not exactly certain how we’re going to give out the toys,” Poe said.
“We’re trying to keep everybody safe. That’s our philosophy right now.”
For more information about supporting Santa’s Toy Shoppe, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Poe at (405) 740-7882.