Big pile of gifts at end of Holiday Helpers toy drive
SARANAC LAKE — Christmas music spilled out of the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department firehouse on Broadway and into the street on Saturday as dozens of locals dropped off gifts for the Holiday Helpers toy drive.
Every year, the program organized by Patti Ploof and Dawn Rogers supplies families in need with gifts their kids want for Christmas. Ploof was beaming as she looked around at the giant stack of toys in the firetruck bay on Saturday, after a steady stream of donors all morning long.
“I personally think this is our best one so far,” Ploof said.
There were gifts for kids of all ages.
“There’s clothes, there’s slippers, there’s ski outfits for babies,” Ploof said. “We’ve got bikes, we’ve got sleds, we’ve got skateboards.
“Some parents aren’t going to be happy with that,” she said of the skateboards.
Families will also get bags of clothes and boxes of food for the holidays.
On Saturday, there were books from the Saranac Lake Teacher’s Association — every kid will get at least two — fishing rods from the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department and toys from the Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad, which were brought in secured tightly on a bright yellow medical stretcher.
“The amount of money people have spent on children who they don’t know, it’s really touching,” Ploof said. “It’s just amazing to me.”
Many people do this anonymously, she said, but she was grateful for all of them.
The SLVFD Ladies’ Auxiliary supplied cookies and chili for all the volunteers and helped greet donors.
Ploof said children were coming in and helping their parents carry gifts, some of which they bought with their own money.
“Some of them, while they were here, were ‘shopping’ to tell mommy what Santa could bring them,” Ploof said with a laugh.
The need is big this year, Ploof said. With high fuel costs, high food costs and higher costs of generally everything, people who aren’t usually financially hurting are this year.
The deadline to sign up to receive has passed, but Ploof said they’ve still accepted some late arrivals.
“I don’t want anybody going without,” she said.
Currently, around 170 children are signed up in the program. By the end, she said there will be more than that. Holiday Helpers gets referrals from groups like the Saranac Lake Police Department.
There’s still plenty of time to donate gifts at drop-off boxes at the Hotel Saranac and Best Western hotels.
Mikayla Ploof said her car was full after picking up from the boxes at the hotels that morning. There were so many gifts at the Best Western location, she said, employees there wheeled out a laundry cart to hold them all.
Patti said a silent auction and trivia night at the Hotel Saranac on Dec. 10 will support Holiday Helpers. She also said the Roedel family, which owns the hotel, has told her if there’s any clothing tags left over on the tree in the hotel lobby, they’ll fill them out themselves.