About 800 children in Dixon will be having a Merry Christmas thanks to the group of volunteers that make up the program.
“This is our 43rd year of running it, “ said Event Chairman Ted Hickman, 67, of Dixon. “We have about 200 volunteers and seven different programs going on at once.”
Those programs include, Toys for Tots, Bikes for Tykes, Coats for Kids, Senior Christmas Visits, Christmas trees and Food for Families.
“All of the programs run under the Dixon Toys for Tots Christmas Programs Inc.,” he said. “Our primary sponsors are the Lions Club, , the , , and rotary. One of our primary sponsors is the Walt Disney Club of Northern California. They give us about $5,000 in toys.”
He added all the service clubs and churches help as well.
Hickman said when the program swings into action this year, the Dixon May Fair will be transformed into a veritable North Pole with Santa's Workshop taking center stage on December 20, 21, 22, 23. Families will be able to get trees. There will be bicycles available as well.
“There's going to be about 350 families,” Hickman said. “They have to prove residency, income and prove their children are enrolled in school.”
He said basically a family that has nothing can get presents for the children. The children can visit Santa Claus and families can get coats.
“Out of the 350 families, there will be roughly 20 to 25 that have nothing,” he said. “They are looking at three weeks with their kids to be out of school with no food. For them, we provide food for three weeks.”
Hickman added the program is non profit and relies on donations from the community. He said 18 different businesses in Dixon have had their collection barrels out since right after Thanksgiving collecting toys and coats.
“We buy about 800 toys and we'll have another $15,000 worth donated,” he said. “The police department is the central point for the collection of coats. The fire department is given the money and buys each kid a toy.”
He said on Sunday, Dec. 18, a group of more than 100 4-H members will come and wrap about 1,000 new gifts in about two hours. On Christmas Eve, the toy program gets shut down and volunteers then create 100 food boxes for senior citizens who will be by themselves that evening. At about 4:30 p.m., volunteers will come in and pick up a box and deliver the boxes. They then spend time with the seniors.
In addition, local seniors receive a gift.
“Our budget is about $15,000 per year all from private donations from businesses and people,” Hickman said. “Many people have come down and have been part of or seen the program. The difference between our program and every other program in Northern California is that we only give to people who need it.”
Hickman added the people involved in the Dixon program truly need the help.
“We're putting a lot of emphasis on the coats,” he said. “We are way short. We may have 200 or 300 and the goal is 1,000 and we have to have them by the 15th.”
He said those who want to donate coats can go to any business in Dixon, the police department, the fire department, Chevy's, and Solano Baking Company.
Hickman also said he and his wife started the coats program and also started the food program. He added the those who volunteer are dedicated and do it because they like making a difference in someone's life.
“A lot of our volunteers take vacation time,” he said. “I did, for 40-years I took my vacation time to do this. Most all of our volunteers, they came down and saw what was going on. They saw the end result. A lot of them got hooked on seeing the childrens' faces.”
For more information or to volunteer, call Hickman at 678-2203.