Marla Mackiewich (left)

Marla Mackiewich (left)

Santas is ready for Christmas

Santas Anonymous provides toys to needy children throughout the North Okanagan at Christmas and all year long

Barbies, puzzles, Lego, stuffed elephants and board games are just a few of the delights awaiting parents at Santas Anonymous.

Since 1989, the non-profit organization has been providing gifts to needy children at Christmas and birthdays all year long.

Now is the time for families to make an appointment at Santas to pick up gifts for children ages birth to 12 years living anywhere in the North Okanagan.

The organization relies not only on the support of the community to provide both gifts of toys and cash, but also on its dedicated and longtime volunteers such as Carolynn Smith and Joan Maxnuk.

“We have 101 things to do: making up the kits, toys to be washed, fixing up the dolls’ hair, getting them dressed,” said Smith, who has been a volunteer with Santas for about 20 years. “I love it here, we have families who break down and cry when they come in to get gifts for their kids, telling us that if it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t have Christmas.

“We love what we do, there are a good bunch of people here.”

A volunteer since 1999, Maxnuk said for kids who are a little older and maybe have lost interest in playing with toys, gift baskets are made up that include a wide variety of items, from jewelry to shampoo, wallets to gift certificates.

“It makes us so happy to see parents picking out gifts for their kids,” she said.

There are always plenty of things besides toys that Santas can use. Smith said any and all sewing notions are most welcome, such as fabric, thread, lace and yarn.

“We make up clothes for dolls and other things, so we run out of fabric a lot. And we always need wool because we have a lovely 85-year-old lady who makes the most beautiful outfits for dolls. She said it makes her happy to do this for us.”

Anything Santas can’t use is donated to other non-profit groups, such as the Family Resource Centre, Teens Count Too, NOYFSS, Transition House and local elementary schools.

In addition to donations of gifts and cash, Santas is always in need of artificial Christmas trees that can be given to families in need.

Santas Anonymous is now taking appointments for parents or caregivers to pick up gifts for their children. Everyone who comes in has their name entered in a draw to win an electric keyboard or an enormous stuffed horse or teddy bear.

To make an appointment, call 250-542-4448. Starting Jan. 5, Santas will be open Tuesdays for parents to pick up birthday gifts.