Jacob Day

Jacob Day

Students wear Santa hats

Vernon Community School students give back through a collaboration with Santas Anonymous to help children in need

With a little paint and a lot of imagination, students at Vernon Community School are helping make Christmas a little brighter for children in need.

Thanks to a connection made by volunteers with Santas Anonymous, the students in the program at Fulton secondary school are busy painting old Tonka trucks to make them as good as new and transforming a hand-crafted train set.

“Someone donated the train set and was not able to finish painting it,” said Perry Wainwright, with Santas Anonymous. “So I had the idea of getting school kids to take on this project.”

The trucks will end up parked on the shelve at Santas Anonymous, where they will be selected by a parent as a Christmas gift for their child.

“The trucks were rusty and fried from the sun and they’re getting all fixed up as these kids are bringing these toys back to life,” said Wainwright.

The train set will be the prize in a raffle draw for parents who make an appointment to pick up gifts for their children.

Wainwright also brought in half a dozen large barrels which will be distribute at businesses around town and filled with donated toys. VCS students have painted the barrels, with colourful Christmas themes.

Santas Anonymous provides toys and gifts to children ages birth to 12 years at Christmas and all year long for birthdays. Gifts are available to families living throughout the North Okanagan, including Armstrong, Falkland, Cherryville, Lumby, Lavington and Coldstream.

Volunteer Lydia Wainwright said so far, business has been fairly steady for Santas volunteers.

“But I would like to encourage people to make contact with us, the sooner the better,” she said. “And as always, we want to remind people that Santas Anonymous is not just for Christmas — we also do birthday gifts all year long.

“We appreciate the support we get from the community, which supports us with financial donations and with gifts. The community employs us to put it in the hands of the rest of the community.”

Lydia appreciates the help that Santas is getting from VCS students because it’s kids helping kids.

“They really think outside the box,” she said.

Student Cole Hutchison coordinated the classroom project and he said all of his classmates were enthusiastic about helping Santas Anonymous.

“We wanted to take it on because we wanted to help kids who don’t get presents and stuff and we wanted to make them happy,” he said. “We had two kids working on one bin each and they had to come up with the design.”

Families in need can contact Santas at 250-542-4448 to make an appointment to come in and pick up Christmas gifts for their children ages zero to 12 years. Deadline to make an appointment is Dec. 10.

“We would like to thank all the businesses and citizens that make donations to Santas so we can continue helping children and families,” said Lydia. “We are here for those who really need it. Some people feel they are not poor enough, but if you don’t have enough for your kids to play with, then feel free and step forward as we want the kids to win.”