It had to have started sometime, somewhere, by someone. But it seems to be one of those mysteries shrouded in time. Nobody remembers when The SKP Park’s involvement with “Toys for Joy” and the Fire Department started. Norm Sherman, one of the few remaining, “Founding Fathers” and builders of the park, says, “I can’t remember when we didn’t do it. “Our, Gene Fisher, who was a Training Officer with the Fire Department says, “We’ve always done it.” Kathy Johnson who probably knows more about the park than anyone, doesn’t know and neither does the office. So much for giving you the history of the program!
Mike Lane, Sutherlin Fire Chief, described what happens to the toys after they left the park in style: filling and overfilling a large fire truck and an Emergency van. B.C. (that’s Before Covid), the fire trucks with Santa aboard delivered the toys to “good little girls and boys”. In previous years, he says “We pulled out the fire trucks and set up tables in the fire hall and covered them with toys.” Parents, with proof that they really had children, could come in and make their choices. First come, first served, then Santa delivered. That parking lot was probably full before dawn!
A.C. (that’s After Covid) no one is allowed to handle the toys so forms will be passed out to parents requesting the ages and gift preferences of their children. The fire fighters then will select toys to give to the parents.
The Sutherlin Volunteer Fire Department Association (make your checks out to them) also chooses 10 families and 5 seniors to provide with Christmas cheer, gifts and food. They stress that the money for that does not come from Toys for Joys donations. It is a separate program.
It doesn’t take much imagination to know that your toys may be all some little tot will receive this Christmas. Sutherlin is not a wealthy city and Covid has certainly stopped or pinched some paychecks, leaving parents struggling to provide food and essentials. We can help put the Merry in Merry Christmas. So if you’ve already done your share: Thanks. And if you didn’t quite get your shopping done in time: Chief Lane says you can drop toys or checks off at the Fire Station until Saturday, Dec. 12.
You can see additional photos by clicking on this link: Toys or Joy