A Boost for Blue Santa
By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor
Dec 17, 2007 - Blue Santa is getting some extra help this week collecting toys and money to purchase toys for children in financially strapped families in Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County.
Star Country radio’s “Moose” Morgan used his morning radio show to launch a 1 1/2 day fundraiser and toy drive for Blue Santa this morning. The radio station will be broadcasting at intervals throughout the drive, giving updates on donations as well as continued needs. The event marks the second time the radio station and Blue Santa have teamed up to make sure no local child goes without Christmas gifts.
This year’s goal for the drive is to raise $20,000 and collect enough toys to fill a trailer at the location, Morgan said this morning.
Representatives from Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County Law Enforcement Associations will be stationed at the trailer in front of Discount Wheel and Tire on South Broadway Street along with radio representatives from 6 a.m. Monday to 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The televised fundraising event will be especially helpful this year, SSLEA members said, because donations in Blue Santa barrels in the city and throughout the county are lagging behind the normal pace.
Blue Santa was started in Hopkins County in 1997 by sheriff's officers to help families in need with gifts for their children. The program picks up where Empty Stocking and Angel Tree programs leave off. Those programs assist people who already qualify for public assistance due to low income levels.
�Blue Santa is an organization designed to assist struggling, working families who make too much for financial assistance but are struggling to make ends meet and can�t provide Christmas for their families,� June Roach with HCLEA explained earlier this winter. "This is to help meet the needs of children who fall between the cracks."
SSLEA officer Angela Franks said this week Blue Santa helps people that make too much for other programs, but may be living paycheck to paycheck, paying their bills and not having a lot, if any, left for Christmas gifts.
"They need help, too,” she said.
Hopkins County Law Enforcement Association has continued the program annually since its start, and since 2002 has done so with assistance from SSLEA.
Franks explained that Blue Santa is also designed to help families who may simply have fallen on hard times due to unexpected financial costs, such as expensive car repairs or illness.
Families benefitting from Blue Santa are required to submit an application, along copies of each child’s Social Security cards or a copy of their school records to identify the child, as well as proof of family income and documents to show need. Applications for Blue Santa will still be accepted through 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Organizers also stressed that, unlike in the past, no one will be allowed to apply for Blue Santa assistance on distribution day.
Those families approved to receive a help from Blue Santa will be notified this week. All Blue Santa gifts will be handed out Dec. 22, from 10 a.m.to 2p .m. at the old Ace Hardware building on Gilmer Street.
This year, Blue Santa is expect to benefit children in at least 100 families. While all age groups of children will receive toys, Blue Santa is most in need of items for newborns up to 1 year and preteens and up.
Already, more than 60 applications have been screened and approved. Blue Santa had placed 32 infants on his list already, and 30-40 more applications have yet to be screened, according to Hopkins County Community Action Network personnel who are helping Blue Santa screen applications.
Suggested items for preteens and older include CD players and gift cards. Items that would make good gifts for infants include activity blankets, growth charts, bathtubs, rattles, training toilet seats and activity toys.
In addition to the Blue Santa fundraiser and toy drive which concludes at 6 p.m. Tuesday, toy donations may also be made in Blue Santa barrels found at businesses and schools throughout the county through Dec. 18. Monetary donations may also be made at the police station and sheriff’s office.