Last year, it took a last-minute rally to get enough presents together for Hillyard’s Santa, Clyde Decker.
He was hoping to get presents to 750 children, but the demand was huge and by Christmas morning he’d gotten presents to 1,755 children of 563 families. It took an enormous effort – probably one that only Santa could make happen – to get all the presents together.
This year, Decker is already bracing himself.
“We are expecting about 3,000 kids up to and including those 16 years old,” Decker said. “If you ask a 16-year-old boy if there is a Santa, he says ‘well, no,’ but if you ask him if he’d like for Santa to leave him something, he says ‘well, yeah.’ ”
The Outlaw Cafe at 5012 N. Market Street is the official donation headquarters.
Decker is looking for new toys and presents in unbroken boxes – nothing used or broken.
“The kids are special, and I want them to open a brand new gift and realize that they are special,” Decker said. Gifts for teenage boys are in especially high demand.
“We always need stuff for the boys,” Decker said.
Cash and check donations are welcome, too.
Decker said that the Hillyard branch of the Bank of America collects all the presents in its vault – “which I’ve already overfilled” – then lends Decker a staff member for the nine days he’s giving out the presents.
“I couldn’t ask for better help. People are so generous,” he said.
Donations of toys and money are accepted through Dec. 23. Decker begins giving out presents on Dec. 13.
“When people come to pick up toys, please don’t park in the bank parking lot because it’s small,” he said. “And please don’t bring any children. That’s a very strict rule. We don’t want to ruin it for them.”