County effort shows Secret Santas are everywhere

Published 10:18 am Friday, December 11, 2009

Community support for this year’s Secret Santa program has been like a fireball barreling through the county, started with a spark from the newly launched Young Professionals.

Right now the program that provides toys for needy children each Christmas has more than $26,000 in donations, either pledged or received, sponsored children and T-shirt sales. That will go to help about 400 youngsters this holiday.

“It is humbling to see the community response, humbling to see the community need and the willingness of the community to respond to that,” Casey Baker, of the Young Professionals, said.

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Local businesses have stepped up to help out the program with donations ranging from $250 to $1,000. Wednesday night Buffalo Wild Wings donated a portion of its sales to the cause, which added to donations made at the restaurant that night total $2,000.

About a month ago the Young Professionals, an organization under the sponsorship of the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce, took over the Secret Santa program when its members learned Job and Family Services Department would be unable to manage the event this Christmas.

In just a few weeks the YPs have solicited support from businesses, churches civic groups and individuals. On top of monetary donations, individuals and community groups have offered to sponsor several children.

“They say ‘Give me 10 names and I will go shop for them,’ “ Baker said.

Another boost to the effort came when the South Point-based BB’s Car Club donated all the toys it gathered from its almost year-long toy drive.

“We had a phenomenal event this past week,” Baker called the club’s gift.

A truckload of more than 5,000 toys was delivered to the Young Professionals along with a check for $500 from the group, plus individual donations.

“They took on a program that no one else wanted and the car club being from South Point and Lawrence County, we wanted to show our support and help them get their organization on the road,” Tom Hayner, BB’s Car Club president, said.

Also every branch of the Briggs Library and the Ironton office of Chiropractor Dr. R.E. Thompson have set up Angel Trees with names patrons can take and buy toys for.

“People have come to us and said ‘I want to help. How do I get my organization outside of Lawrence County involved in this. You guys are fulfilling a need,’ “ Baker said.

Next week the Young Professionals will hold gift-wrapping parties every night from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Cross Community Church, now housed in the former South Point Elementary School. The presents will be available for pickup on Dec. 21-23.

“Just to see the love and pride in the community come out and support this, support our organization is humbling,” Baker said. “The other feeling is excitement because I know how awesome this project has been and the fact we have put it together in a month. If we put in a lot of time and planning, we could double what did this year, easily.”