Local volunteers (from left) Kevin J. Freeman, Carolyn Conner and Cheryl Conner are putting in longer hours at the workshop inside Santa’s Helpers in Dresden.
How is it possible that Santa grants wishes for every child across the globe each Christmas? For those children in Weakley County, local non-profit agency Santa’s Helpers helps make it possible. Each year the walls in the dilapidated building on South Poplar Street in Dresden house hundreds of toys, clothes and games for children at Christmas time.
The spirit of generosity is one that started nearly 15 years ago when founder Lou Ann Powers of Dresden started shopping for her first “sponsored” child.
The sponsorship program works through donations gathered from community members. Needy families are given forms to fill out listing a child’s clothing size and a special toy he or she would like for Christmas.
Powers and the staff of Santa’s Helpers call in “sponsors” from years’ past to see if they would like to once again, shop for a needy child.
If there are families who haven’t been sponsored for the year, Santa’s Helpers works until Christmas Eve ensuring the children get something from their wish list. Powers does not turn any family away during the holiday season.
With the loss of long-time contributor Ned Ray McWherter, Powers said this year has proven to be challenging for the local organization.
“I have pinched pennies everywhere that I know to pinch. I have shopped at every local store for clothes and toys to make sure these children will still have gifts at Christmas,” Powers shared.
Sponsors are asked to purchase a shirt, pair of pants, pajamas or underwear and two small toys for their sponsorship.
Santa’s Helpers adds to the pile by giving candy canes, socks, coloring books and crayons, gloves or mittens, toboggans and board games.
“I have had so many people in the past tell me they take their children with them to shop for a child they have sponsored and it is uplifting to see children helping children,” Powers added.
On Saturday, Santa’s Helpers will open its doors for its second annual Grandma’s Day. Powers said throughout the year the organizations receives donations of gently-used items.
The agency allows grandparents to come and “shop” from every table set aside in the building from stocking stuffers to games to boys’ and girls’ toys to give to their grandchildren for Christmas. The organization will even provide a roll of wrapping paper.
Nearly 200 grandparents have signed up to participate in Grandma’s Day.
While the staff kicks work into high gear during the holidays, none should be fooled by the name Santa’s Helpers.
The organization recently prepared Thanksgiving dinner boxes for almost 60 families.
Throughout the year, people wait patiently for the downtown building to open its doors so they may benefit from the food pantry.
Santa’s Helpers operates strictly through donations from the community. From food, clothing, household goods and toys, the organization attempts to fill the gap for the needy.
Currently, the non-profit agency is in need of toys and children’s clothing for Santa’s workshop so that no child goes without during the holiday season.
The food pantry is in need of non-perishable items such as:
• biscuit mix,
• peanut butter and jelly,
• pancake syrup and mix,
• instant potatoes,
• cans of soup,
• and sweets such as cookies and snack cakes.
Contact Santa’s Helpers at 364-3130 or Powers at 364-2113 for additional information. Visit the workshop from 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday on South Poplar Street in downtown Dresden for assistance or to drop off donations.