Operation: Santa Claus now accepting donations

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It’s that time of year again, when families gather together to celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford gifts for their children — that’s where Operation: Santa Claus comes in.

The Chilton County Fraternal Order of Police, Smith-Dale Lodge 31, is currently accepting donations for the eighth annual drive, which provides toys to children age 15 and younger who would otherwise have little or nothing to open on Christmas morning.

Over the past seven years, Operation: Santa Claus has helped more than 2,000 children enjoy the simple pleasure of unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning.

“Due to the downturn in the economy, the Smith-Dale Lodge is expecting a larger number of people requesting help for Christmas,” said John Shearon, group spokesman.

“With fewer people willing to help each year and the amount of donations going down, Operation: Santa Claus will have to handle things in a different way than we have in the past. All donations will still go to help the less fortunate of Chilton County. We will be selecting a fewer number of families to help, and this will allow us to be able to do more for each family. This will enable us to match the amount of donations to the number of families we are able to help.”

Last year, Operation: Santa Claus collected around $10,000 and was able to help more than 300 children.

“As you could imagine, that does not go very far,” Shearon said. “Doing things differently this year will allow us to investigate the severity of each case more closely and be able to help the most needy cases. Our goal is to be able to help the people who are in the most desperate of situations.”

In times past, Shearon explained, officers have personally taken items in cases of house fires to make sure the children had something to open on Christmas morning.

Every year, however, several hundred children have had to be turned away, and the organization has attempted to get these children adopted out by churches or individuals that would make the commitment to get involved.

The Chilton FOP encourages every business, church, organization and individual to do all they can to make this Christmas season joyful for the needy families of Chilton County.

Anyone desiring to make a donation may send a check or money order made payable to Operation: Santa Claus.
Anyone that would be interested in adopting a family can also contact organizers and would greatly be appreciated.

Any donations made should be received by Dec. 1, 2010, to the following address: Operation: Santa Claus, P.O. Box 2332, Clanton, AL 35046.

For more information, call Sgt. Warren Garris at 755-4698, Shearon at 755-6261 or Erric Price at 755-4698.