Santa's Toy Box opens up biggest year for gifts
While a bad economy as led to rumors of elf layoffs at the North Pole, local helpers are stepping up to make sure Watauga County children have a merry Christmas.
Santa's Toy Box is putting together one of its biggest holiday drives ever- the volunteer effort is now in its 23rd year.
"Last year, we had 887 kids," said Gene Swift, one of the organizers with the Boone Optimists Club. "This year, we're looking at upwards of 900 and close to a thousand."
The donations are arranged as a store, where families can "shop" for goods.
Proof of being a Watauga County residency is required in order to shop at the pick-up site.
Referrals have come from the Watauga County Department of Social Services, Watauga County Health department, churches, schools, and OASIS. The shopping is done over several days in December.
Contributions to Santa's Toy Box should be unwrapped, new toys. Each child will receive a book and four new toys valued at about $50, and the organizers are seeking donations of about 4,000 toys.
Toys can be dropped off at Southern States Subaru, First Citizen's Bank, High Country Press, Charter Communications and the Boone Police Department. Appalachian State University Appalachian Popular Programming Society and ASU Optimist Club are also conducting on-campus toy drives.
All types of toys and books for ages 6 months through 15 are welcome, Swift said. Monetary donations are accepted year round, and donations of toys are accepted until Dec. 18, Swift said.
The pick-up site is the old Ferguson Enterprises building on George Wilson Road in Boone, donated by Jimmy Hodges. Families are invited through various community agencies and get a letter telling them what time to come and pick up toys.
Santa's Toy Box began through the Deerfield United Methodist Church and Boone Jaycees in 1986. The Boone Optimists Club, Boone Kiwanis Club, Deerfield Methodist Church and Boone Advent Christian Church are the main organizers of the toy drive.
Monetary donations can be mailed to Santa's Toy Box, PO Box 1337, Boone NC 28607.