by Madison V. Fisler
Dec. 17, 2013. For the third year in a row, High Country Residents Tom and Tina Barrett delivered a massive truckload of toys to Haircut 101 on Depot Street in Boone to donate to Santa’s Toy Box.
Santa’s Toy Box was started in 1986 by the men’s group at Deerfield Methodist Church, and since that time has become a successful annual community project. Last year, more than 928 less-fortunate children through the age of 15 had a brighter Christmas because of Santa’s Toy Box.
Santa’s Toy Box has thrived over the years because of countless donations from individuals, businesses and churches.
Around 2 p.m., Tom and Tina Barrett arrived outside of Haircut 101 and started unloading toys by the dozen, including bicycles (with matching helmets of course!), scooters, games, toys and more for all ages, from infant on up.
The toys soon filled up the tiny-by-comparison collection box at the salon, and bikes and scooters were lined up inside the salon.
“It looks like a hair-salon bike rally!” said John Mena, owner of Haircut 101.
The Barrett’s have been doing this for three years now and have no inclination to stop any time soon.
“We have been clients here for a long time, and one day John asked us to bring a toy for the collection box to my appointment,” Tom said.
“So we brought a few,” Tom said with a laugh. “We keep telling them every year that they are going to have to get us a bigger box.”
The Barrett’s took about two hours to fill four shopping carts to the brim at Walmart in anticipation for their massive donation.
“We are so blessed,” Tom said. “Almost a quarter of the population around here lives in poverty. If those of us who can give don’t share, it’s not going to be a very good Christmas for everyone. We usually try to involve our granddaughters, tell them to pick out all of the things that they would really like to get for Christmas, and explain that we are going to give them to children who really need it. This year, we had to do it without them because we have been traveling, but I can assure you we have put just as much effort into picking out toys, and we spent lots of time making sure the helmets matched the bicycles!”
Santa’s Toy Box is an organization that is very near and dear to the Barretts’ hearts.
“I chose Santa’s Toy Box because I had a friend whose husband was very active in it,” said Tina. “We contacted other charitable entities and none of them but Santa’s Toy Box could guarantee that the toys stayed in this county. That was very important to us. We wanted the toys to go to kids right here, not somewhere else far away.”
This year, Haircut 101 partnered with Santa’s Toy Box and offered a free $5 Gift Card to be used toward services and products at the salon to anyone that brought in a new, unwrapped toy for the cause. This offer is good through Thursday.
In addition to toys, Santa’s Toy Box also accepts volunteers and cash donations that are used to take parents shopping for presents.
In 2012, Santa’s Toy Box was able to help more than 900 less fortunate children in Watauga County to have a more merry Christmas.
This year, with prices climbing and the organization’s reach growing each year, Santa’s Toy Box is again in need of donations to help meet the needs and requests of many area parents for help this Christmas.
“Last year, we helped about 918 children,” said Gene Swift, co-chairperson of Santa’s Toy Box who stopped by Haircut 101 to meet the Barretts.
“We never know exactly how many kids we are going to have each year, but the last few years have been around 900 children.”
This year, Santa’s Toy Box is located at 190 Poplar Grove Road in Boone and began setting up shelves, assembling and shelving toys and distributing them after Thanksgiving.
Even during the most giving of seasons, getting enough donations to meet the needs of the Watauga community can be difficult.
“It’s always a struggle,” Swift said. “Money and donations are coming in slowly, but we hope to help as many children as we can.”
Donations can be sent to PO Box 1337 Boone, NC 28607. If you would like to volunteer to help with Santa’s Toy Box, call Gene at 266-3362. Those who are looking to get signed up to receive gifts this holiday season can contact the family coordinators at 262-1422 to get signed up.
“If there are people in need we want to help them,” Swift said. “We will try to accommodate everyone.”
All donations are tax deductible. Receipts will be automatically provided for all contributions over $250 and receipts for lesser amounts will be provided as requested. Those supporters contributing $500 or more will be classified as Super Santa’s with recognition and publicity for this year’s project in print and media, if wanted.
For more information, call 828-264-4801.
Check out our photos of the Barrett’s generous donation this afternoon at Haircut 101.
Photos by Madison V. Fisler