FAIRBANKS — Small mountains of clear plastic bags, each filled with age-appropriate gifts, are slowly growing at Santa’s Clearing House. But the smallest hillocks are in the age groupings of newborns to 1-year-olds and 1- to 2-year-olds.
“We need infant and young toddler gifts” was the plea from Santa’s volunteer elves Tuesday afternoon.
Suggested gifts for the youngest members of families in need this holiday season include infant layettes; rattles; soft, safe toys; and fabric books.
For toddlers ages 1-2, soft toys, building blocks, stuffed animals, soft dolls and early childhood books would be welcome.
Santa’s elves are keeping busy and appreciate all the generous folk throughout the community who are braving temperatures far below zero to deliver toys and gifts for children who might otherwise not receive any.
A father of two children, ages 11 and 14, who would only identify himself as “John,” brought in several overflowing bags of books and toys in good condition that his offspring selected from their stashes, as well as a passel of new toy donations.
He said the family’s annual donation to Santa’s Clearing House, located in the former railroad depot behind the News-Miner, has become a tradition at their house.
In a corner of the clearinghouse, longtime Christmas elves Don Callahan and Dick Levine were busy checking out plastic race cars and dinosaurs with batteries and making small repairs before placing them in appropriate packing areas.
“We need more batteries,” they said — AAAs and 9-volt in particular.
More books for all ages up to 18 would be appreciated, from Golden Books to teen favorites.
Lena Tickett, of Kobuk and Fairbanks, once again was spending her day helping out while her children were in school.
Working with her was Sharon Brand, who helped out last year with a group from Christ Lutheran Church.
Her reasons for volunteering are shared by many who help out at Santa’s Clearing House.
“I’m blessed and need to help out and volunteer for those who aren’t as blessed,” Brand said.
Anyone who knows of a family in need with children is urged to call the clearinghouse at 457-1934 by Saturday, Dec. 8, to put the children on the Santa’s Clearing House list.
In addition to children’s gifts, the family will receive a week’s worth of food boxes, including food for a holiday meal.
Monetary donations may be sent to Santa’s Clearing House, Box 70710, Fairbanks, AK 99707, or made by credit card during business hours at the News-Miner front desk.
Donations of toys, gifts and money are welcome daily at the clearinghouse. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Contact staff writer Mary Beth Smetzer at 459-7546.