2005 Could Be A Year Without Santa

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The unthinkable may actually happen this year: hundreds of Rim country children might be waking up on Christmas morning to an empty void under their trees.

No gifts. No bicycles. No stockings filled with care.

I'm not trying to alarm anybody ... I'm merely pointing out the facts.

Santa's List, the organization that has filled the Christmas wishes and stockings of the Rim country's less fortunate families for nearly two decades, is calling it quits.

After 18 years, the three core members -- Brenda Martell, Scott Smith and myself -- and others who've followed, have decided to hang up their Santa hats.

"Most of the members we have right now are retiring," Martell said. "For a variety of reasons, circumstances have changed for everyone. It's just time to hand the organization over to another group."

Unfortunately, when the group met Tuesday night to do just that, there were no volunteers.

Only one group showed up --he Marine Corps League --eady to lend its support to whomever ends up with the toy drive.

Martell said there's plenty of support in the community to carry on the generosity. Organizations like Rim Country Classic Car Club consistently help Santa's List every year. Meanwhile, members of Santa's List are always just a phone call away.

"We don't want to dump it in someone's lap and walk away," said Martell.

To run the charity smoothly, Martell said it takes at least a dozen workers who are willing to give up a lot of their time throughout the year. Aside from the established fund-raisers --he golf tournament, lobster dinner and selling glow ropes during the Fourth of July celebration --he toy drive requires a tremendous amount of work during the holidays, from registration, shopping, sorting and delivery.

But the rewards make it all worthwhile.

"I'll never forget the looks on the children's faces when they see their gifts, the children who are literally vibrating because they're so excited," Smith said.

"And, the look of relief on the parents' faces --nowing that someone was willing to help --hat's priceless," Martell added.

Santa's List is giving it another month. By the first of March, they hope to turn over the reins to another nonprofit organization.

If no one steps forward, 2005 could indeed be a year without Santa.

To learn how you can help, call Martell or President Barb Wilembrecht at (928) 468-1188.

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