Kiwanis program taking donations now, sign-up to receive gifts by Nov. 31.
By Brandon Hansen/The Independent Staff
Santa is coming to Chewelah, and actually he’s already here.
Operation Santa is replacing Tree of Sharing in town as a way to help 300 kids in Chewelah have a great Christmas. The Chewelah Kiwanis will be Santa’s elves this Christmas, and they’re asking for donations in the form of unopened, unwrapped brand new toys or clothing for children from the age of newborn to 17 years.
“There are a lot of families out there in need and we’re here to help each other out,” Operation Santa volunteer Holly Ayers said.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will also show up in December at the Abundant Life Fellowship to hand out the gifts to the kids. The hope is to make it more of an event and allow families to enjoy the experience and have some Christmas treats as well.
You can signup to receive gifts through Operation Santa up until Nov. 31. There will be an announcement in the Chewelah Independent providing the dates and location for families that did sign their children up to pick up toys before Christmas. The announcement for the pick up dates and location will also be posted on the announcement board in the Chewelah Post Office and the Chewelah Food Bank in November.
Ayers said she remembers Christmas being “rescued” as a child when her principal showed up to her house with presents.
“It’s more about the thought of people thinking about you than the gifts themselves,” Ayers said.
Operation Santa will be easier for organizers to do with no tree tags to track down and more accountability how aid is applied in the local area. Donations so far have been going well, with Operation Santa reaching the one-third mark on their $15,000 goal. Their reasoning is $50 can be allocated for each child. Santa will be taking donations until Christmas or even afterwards as they can carry over the money for next year’s Operation.
Signup sheets for Operation Santa will be at donation areas at The Chewelah Independent and Lost but Found Thrift Store beginning on Friday. There will be a Santa Claus displayed with a tote next to it for the toys to go in. The totes will be available for toy donations from Oct. 15 through Nov. 31.
Since the Kiwanis are a 501c3 non-profit organization, people can count these as donations on their taxes. It also makes the program eligible for bigger grants and help from outside of town as well.
“We can get bigger out of town donations from companies like Walmart and that helps,” Ayers said.
Donations for Operation Santa can be given at the Chewelah Independent, Washington Federal and Zips.
If you would like to donate money, there will be a money envelope at the desk at donation locations along with a folder where you can write your name, phone number and amount donated so that you can be contacted to get a receipt. If you would like to mail in a donation, you may write checks payable to Kiwanis Operation Santa and mail to PO Box 1051 Chewelah, Wash. You may contact Holly Ayers at 509-680-6945 with any questions. She will be happy to meet with you to accept donations as well.