Donations needed for Operation: Santa Claus

Published 1:20 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2012

With the Christmas holiday just a few weeks away, there are many who are in need of some festive cheer.

One organization in Chilton County inviting anyone interested in offering assistance to those who are less fortunate is Operation: Santa Claus, sponsored by the Clanton Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Smith-Dale Lodge 31.

The Clanton Police Department and Chilton County Sheriff’s Office will be assisting the FOP on Dec. 15 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Clanton Police Department parking lot where they will be accepting donations of new unwrapped toys for all ages up to 16 years old. The gifts can be for a girl or boy and cash contributions will also be accepted.

The program is designed to provide Christmas to less fortunate families in the community who would otherwise have little or nothing to open on Christmas morning.

Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell is the treasurer of the FOP lodge and said donations are down this year.

“We can definitely tell times are difficult for everyone because donations are down,” Stilwell said. “But when times are hard, the demand for us to help with Christmas is larger.”

The Clanton FOP normally helps more than 150 kids per year and has in the past provided Christmas for more than 400 children.

“If something doesn’t change financially in this last week, we will not be able to help as much,” Stilwell said. “The FOP is hoping for a Christmas miracle.”

Deputy Warren Garris, FOP president, said Operation: Santa Claus has been a successful event for more than 10 years and is trying to make a last-minute push to raise funds for those in need.

“Any contributions can help,” Garris said in a release.

CPD will also be accepting donations on Dec. 17 during normal business hours. The CPD is located at 601 First Ave. Clanton.

Those who are unable to stop can mail a financial contribution to Clanton FOP, P.O. Box 2332, Clanton, 35046.

John Shearon with the FOP said the group plans to shop for gifts on Dec. 18 in hopes of delivering to the recipients of the gifts on Dec. 20.

“Our goal is to be able to help the people who are in the most desperate situations,” Shearon said. “Every year, hundreds of children are turned away. In those cases, we ask that churches or individuals adopt a family or help in any way possible.”