Released by Dixon Toys For Tots
For those not familiar with the Dixon Toys for Tots/Community Christmas Programs here’s how things work: Donations are received from the Dixon community, business and service clubs. The budget for the seven programs is about $15,000 a year. The Dixon Fire Department has a couple members of its auxiliary, headed by Division Chief Ron Karlen and his wife, that buy the toys year around to help Santa Claus. Members of the fire department and members from Travis AFB spend about 100 man hours to construct, from scratch, a Santa’s work shop where every qualified low income child in the 95620 zip code will come to see Santa and get gifts with their name and age on the gift tag.
The Dixon 4-H Clubs and parents (about 100 people) wrap about 1,000 gifts in under two hours and another group then helps Santa pick out a gift for each of the 700 to 800 children. This program is coordinated by Kelly Fletcher.
While this is going on about 1,000 coats are collected and set up next to Santa’s work shop so when the families leave Santa they can go into another building and pick out a coat…a few will also get bikes and Christmas Trees. The coat program was started by Linda Hickman in the 1960’s and has spread through the state. The program is now coordinated by Elaine Perry of the Dixon Police Department.
Of the 300 to 350 families screened and qualified about 10 per cent are found to be very low on food for the three weeks their children will be out of school. Toys for Tots, (with the help of the American Legion for distribution), provides food for those whole families for the three weeks.
On Christmas Eve yet another whole set of volunteers sets up about 100 gift boxes and presents for seniors who will be alone on that evening. About 4:30 that afternoon another set of volunteers arrives to take out the boxes and spend some time with a senior citizen…this expense coupled with the food for families equals the amount spent on toys. If you know any seniors who could use a visit, or would like to deliver baskets, please contact the program coordinator, Lindsey Hickman, at 707-365-5804 or email FancyFrostings@yahoo.com
Altogether 200 to 300 volunteers work in the various programs which start on December 13and ends on Christmas Day. The entire organization is all volunteer and is a 501C-3 non-profit which means donations are tax deductible.
They toys collected from the community are distributed by Santa on an “asked for” basis. If a child asks for a toy by name and Santa’s helper has one, Santa magically produces it and gives it to the child on the spot. This is a nice part for both the volunteers and the children…its magic.
This Dixon program is currently in its 47th year of operation and it started when Ted Hickman was editor of the Dixon Tribune and the Catholic Church annex burned down and took a meager Christmas program with it. He wrote a story about no Christmas for Dixon and donations came in from across the country. He used the money to buy toys and got Santa Claus and his helpers to deliver them to children who thought there would be no Christmas that year. Back in the 60’s Santa made Christmas Eve visits to all of the families but in a matter of years the programs became too big and a location had to be found where the children could come to see Santa.
In the past 47 years the Dixon Lions Club, Ron DuPratt Ford, The First Northern Bank, Bank of America, and almost all service clubs have supported this effort one way or another every year. Half of the donations come in from the larger business and from the fireworks sales while the rest are donations from $10 to $1,000 from ordinary citizens who either have seen the programs in operation or know about them and the good they do.
Toys and coats can be dropped off at any of about 35 businesses throughout Dixon. Tax deductable financial donations can be made at the First Northern Bank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank. To date only about half of the needed funds have been received. All donors are invited to come and see the programs in action.