Young Professionals gearing up for another Secret Santa program

Published 9:28 am Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Christmas may be four months away, but the Secret Santa volunteers are already starting work on the annual drive to help needy children have clothes and toys for the holiday.

“We are planning to operate much like last year by contacting the schools and getting information on each child from the schools directly,” Casey Baker, coordinator of the program, said.

This is the fifth year for Secret Santa, organized by the Young Professionals, an organization of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. The goal is to provide winter clothing and Christmas presents for Lawrence County children from the ages of 0 to 12, who might not otherwise have a happy holiday.

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Last year the Young Professionals helped 500 children and got names for the program through the county schools.

“We will probably stick to around 500,” Baker said. “That seemed like a doable number without putting us in a situation where we aren’t sure we can provide. By last year going through the schools it helped cut down on those last minute requests. It also cut down on the folks who are not necessarily needy and unfortunately take advantage of other people’s charity.”

About $25,000 was needed last year in monetary donations and in-kind contributions to take care of the children. The Young Professionals expect to contact the schools next month for names and begin shopping in October.

“With Christmas deals starting earlier and earlier, we will start earlier and earlier,” Baker said.

The organization will accept contributions to pay for the gifts or can use volunteers who will go shopping for a specified number of children.

“Donations would be fantastic,” Baker said. “We can always use cash and sponsorships. It really does help when people volunteer to (go shopping) for the children. We have church groups and local businesses and they all take a group 10 to 20 children. That helps us out a lot.

If anyone wishes to make a contribution directly to the Secret Santa program, that can be done by writing a check to LEDC Secret Santa and sending it to the Chamber of Commerce, 216 Collins Ave., South Point, OH 45680.”

“Each year when we do our pass out, you really see the need,” Baker said. “Unfortunately, the economy is not getting any better and I think a lot of people genuinely do need the help. Those people are the reason we do this, for them to walk up on Christmas morning and open some presents.”