By Conrad Dudderar
More eastern Canadian County families than ever shopped for Christmas to highlight a 22nd annual charity toy drive.
“We had record participation among the recipients and the volunteers,” said Yukon’s Jim Poe, president of Santa’s Toy Shoppe. “Just under 500 families applied this year.”
Santa’s Toy Shoppe makes Christmastime brighter for people in need by allowing families to select toys and other gifts for their children on a huge “giveaway” day in Yukon.
Toy distribution was Dec. 10 when volunteers helped recipient families literally shop for Christmas gifts. A “make-up” shopping day was Dec. 13 for those unable to come Dec. 10.
“It all went fantastic,” Poe said. “The recipients seemed extremely pleased with the quality and quantity that they received.”
Established in 2001, the Santa’s Toy Shoppe program serves eastern Canadian County (Yukon, Piedmont and Mustang area) youth from infants to age 15.
“We want to thank the entire community – from the elected officials to the citizens,” said Poe, a past Yukon Volunteer of the Year. “We thank them for all the kids who are going to be able to have a Christmas.”
In recent years, Santa’s Toy Shoppe volunteers helped an average of 400 families annually.
But they saw a significant increase in 2022 – including new families who have moved to this central Oklahoma growth area.
“The need is greater,” Poe explained. “We had a 25% increase in applications. That means there’s 25% more people who have heard of us now or need help.
“Yukon Sharing had about the same increase in their holiday baskets (distribution also was Dec. 10).”
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Santa’s Toy Shoppe is an all-volunteer effort that relies on tax-deductible gifts from the public.
“This is all for the kids, but our volunteers also get so much out of it – no matter how they’re helping,” Poe said. “It’s rewarding for them.
“As in years past, there were tears by both volunteers and recipients.”
The public gave generously this fall at some 50 drop-off sites across eastern Canadian County – specifically fire departments, retirement centers, banks, doctor’s offices, and restaurants.
Many eastern Canadian County schools also collected toys for Santa’s Toy Shoppe.
“This year, the Mustang school system was the largest provider of toys,” Poe noted. “They brought six school busses and two fire trucks filled with toys in them.”
New, unwrapped toys – along with stocking stuffers and gift cards – are welcome and appreciated throughout the year, not just around Christmas.
“We’re already getting ready for 2023,” Poe pointed out. “Donations are accepted year-round at the Yukon or Mustang fire department.”
The eastern side of Canadian County primarily covers Yukon, Mustang, Piedmont, and west Oklahoma City; but also includes part of El Reno.
For more information about supporting Santa’s Toy Shoppe, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (405) 740-7882.