News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Christmas in July set for Saturday

Contributing writer for The Canyon Weekly

Mill City kiddos will enjoy Christmas in July this Saturday, with toys given away via the Toys for Tots “Unplug and Play” summer program.

United Way/Good 360 in partnership with the Santiam Canyon Disaster Response Team and local survivors invites Mill City residents to a toy and holiday decoration giveaway between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 23 at Stewart’s Hall, 158 Broadway, Mill City. A second giveaway will take place in September in Gates, to be announced.

Kevin Dial, recovery manager of Santiam Canyon Long Term Recovery Group, along with Colman Crocker, United Way Good360 manager, and Jacob Bentz from Santiam Intergration Team came up with adding Toys for Tots to Christmas in July.

“And that is how their ‘Unplug And Play’ summer program was added to the Christmas in July event,” said Laurie Brooks, a volunteer with United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley and Good 360 in Salem. 

“And, thus, instead of just having various Christmas items such as ornaments, tablecloths, decorations, etc., available to the Canyon residents, some really cool toys will be made available for the children, with the aim of getting the kids off the computers, TVs, video games, and whatever else they’ve ‘plugged’ themselves in to occupying their time.

Brooks believes an event like this has never been done in Mill City before.

 “There is no registration proves, and no donations are expected or required. People just need to show up and pick out the Christmas items and/or toys they want,” Brooks said. “There is no limit on the Christmas decor items, but I believe there is a limit as to how many toys each person may take.”

Crocker told Brooks the majority of the toys are geared toward children from the ages of 3-8, but there may be a few for over 12-year-olds. 

“These Christmas items and toys for children are meant for personal use only and are not for resale,” Brooks said. “Also, these toys are meant for immediate gifting to the children. They are not meant to be saved up to give them in December.”

According to Brooks, she proposed Christmas in July as a means of not having to store boxes of returned items donated by vendors, including Amazon and Walmart. 

“We volunteers open and unpack each of the boxes, which are filled with who knows what?” she said. “In any given box one can find items meant for personal hygiene, pet products, kitchen items, clothing, and so on – including various holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas. 

“We sort out the items and place them in the appropriate shelves and/or boxes,” she added. “There are often more items for certain holidays, such as Christmas, for example, than others. The manager of the Good 360 was becoming concerned about their ability to store so many Christmas items.”

Brooks knows first-hand what it’s like to have been hit so hard by the wildfires of 2020. 

“My husband and I lost everything we owned when our house burned down, and I know many people who are in the same boat,” she said. “We have been blessed in so many ways by so very many people, and I feel it would be nice to put a smile in someone else’s heart.”

Brooks added, “Rumor has it that if all goes well with this giveaway, Toys for Tots will return closer to the holidays. And who knows? Perhaps there will be more Christmas decor items to give out then too!”

For more information, contact [email protected].

Previous Article

Local group collecting blankets, coats for unsheltered neighbors

Next Article

Salmon Watch program seeks volunteers

You might be interested in …

Here is downtown Detroit in 1951 in the days before the dam. A two-day event to celebrate and learn more about Detroit history is set for Oct. 21-22. Postcard image courtesy of North Santiam Historical Society

Event set to look at Detroit history

About the Project The Atlas of Drowned Towns is an effort to recover and interpret the histories of places lost to large dams. The project explores these histories through a digital platform and community outreach […]