Blue Santa still in need of donations
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Dec. 18, 2006 - The local Blue Santa program, sponsored by Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County Law Enforcement Associations, has received requests from more families than usual seeking assistance in providing their children with Christmas gifts this year.

As of late morning Monday, Blue Santa workers had approved 54 applications for assistance for families and had at least 30 or so more to go, with a few not yet in, according to Tina Lazarus with HCLEA, who has been vetting the requests, making sure there is a need present and that the family hasn't already been assisted by another Christmas program.

Because of the increased need, even more toy donations are needed this year. Blue Santa barrels have been stationed at local businesses since Thanksgiving to collect toys. While gift-givers have been generous, the barrels just aren't bringing in as many toys this year, when even more items are needed.

To assist in the effort, Star Country 95.9 radio's Moose Morgan, known to his loyal listeners as Moose in the Morning, is working with Blue Santa to conduct a 36-hour donation marathon.

Beginning at 6 a.m., Moose Morgan arrived with his camper and a donation trailer at the marathon headquarters at Discount Wheel and Tires, located across from the Alliance Bank drive through on South Broadway Street.

�He was handcuffed by officers to the post of the awning to his camper, and has vowed to remain at the location until at least 6 p.m. Tuesday, to collect both monetary and toy donations for Blue Santa, and is willing to remain on sight longer if the Blue Santa donation trailer isn't filled by that point.

The drive is being held just days before the Blue Santa distribution, so time and donation is of essence. Those approved for Blue Santa are slated to pickup their items between 10 a.m. and 12 noon on Wednesday, Dec. 20, at Lake Pointe Church, located between Brookshire's and Blockbuster on Gilmer Street. 

As of 10 a.m. Monday, Moose had collected $700, which Blue Santa's elves (members of HCLEA and SSLEA) had already collected and gone to the store to begin shopping for goodies. More money and donations are still needed to fill those lists, which include families ranging in size from one and two children on up to five, six or more.

Brothers Burgers & More got the ball rolling this morning with a $100 donation. Although not giving directly to the cause, Brother's Burgers, Chili's, Chicken Express, John's Potato and Pizza Inn, are helping out by donating food and drinks for Moose, the officers staying at the location with him, Blue Santa workers and those donating.

Another local business, Pilot Travel Center, gathered up the $2,900 worth toys their store had collected, including about $2,700 worth cash donations and coupons to the "Truckers for Tots" program which benefits Blue Santa. Pilot General Manager Greg Hostetler said he anticipates collecting another $1,000 worth toys for the program before the drive is over.

Contech Construction brought over two new bikes to help fill the trailer.

One mother brought in eight bags full of toys, saying she couldn't imagine her 8-year-old not having Christmas and hoped that if her family was ever in a position to need the Blue Santa toys that others would give generously to help out too.

An elementary student dropped off the $15 he had earned in allowance money to benefit the cause and challenged others to do the same. Benny and Sue Ann Johnson made a donation, and challenged every grandparents in town to bring at least one toy to help out. 

A middle school teacher gave $70 out of her pocket and challenged other teachers to donate as well. A local doctor who asked that his name be kept confidential challenged everyone int he medical community to give to the program.

As another incentive to give, police officers will be offering to fingerprint children for a kids safety card from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday. At 5 p.m. tonight, the First Baptist Church Praise Team will be singing at the marathon location.

As soon as any sizable amount of money is donated, Blue Santa's elves are collecting it and making purchases for the children the program benefits. All toys will be taken to the distribution location to be sorted and bagged up for each family.

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