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Santa's Helpers ready for 42nd run

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Many individuals, organizations contribute to the cause

By Linda Ireland

On Christmas Eve, the Santa’s Helper bus will make its 42nd annual run.

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The project, started by Bobby Morrison, provides a happier holiday season for local low-income families – and others struggling to make ends meet. Although Bobby has been too ill to participate in the tradition for two years, it is carried on by his wife, Ann “Snookie” Morrison, and a handful of dedicated volunteers.

Friday, the bus was already full of toys – and several items of children’s clothing – that will be delivered at five locations Dec. 24.

Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and Sonic the Hedgehog peer from the windows while smaller boxed toys fill the bench seats. A basket of Barbies, a pair of panda pillows and a trio of Transformers wait for their new owners.

Even though the bus appears to be at capacity, that doesn’t mean the volunteers can rest. Last year, the bus was “cleaned out” by run’s end – something that never had happened before, Snookie said. With the current economic climate, she expects the same situation to occur this year. She wants to make sure that every child who wants a toy walks away with a toy.

That’s why volunteers continue to gather inside Morrison’s garage, cleaning and repairing last minute donations.

Carolyn McCorkle and Jimmy Engle broke out in laughter Friday as they tried to figure out the best way to repair a still-functional electronic turtle that had lost a foot. Roberta Morrison sorted through stuffed toys, pulling out ones that are too worn for Christmas-giving. Those “well-loved” toys will not be tossed. They will be available during the free clothes giveaway the volunteers have at the fairgrounds several times a year.

The group needs more indoor and outdoor toys for boys, Morrison said. They don’t need any more stuffed animals, “but will take them for next year.”

“We don’t turn anything away,” she said.

And, she doesn’t turn anyone away. A woman called Morrison last week, saying she needed gifts for her children. The woman was in tears after another agency told her their funds were tapped.

 “I told her as long as I’ve got something, I’ll make sure she gets something,” Morrison said.

Others have called, requesting certain items like bicycles, for their children.

Morrison expects to assist more than 400 families this year, including nursing home residents. The group also provides food baskets.

The group also needs a volunteer to play Santa Christmas Eve. Long-time helper Homer Trumbo is not feeling well and is unable to repeat the role.

“I think I have (a Santa) lined up,” Morrison said, “but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll need a volunteer.”

Santa’s Helpers couldn’t provide the services without assistance from the community. Morrison said many individuals and organizations have contributed to the cause including South Fork Baptist Church, merchants of Hodgenville, Buffalo and Magnolia, LaRue County Fiscal Court, Hodgenville City Council, LaRue County Chamber of Commerce, Abe’s Country Cooking, Dollar General Store, Community Action and The LaRue County Herald News.

Want to help?

Anyone wanting to donate items can drop them off at Santa’s House at 760 Salem Lake Road or call 234-3313 for pickup.

Santa’s Bus Schedule Dec. 24

•Magnolia Fire House – 9:30 a.m.

•Buffalo Fire House – 11 a.m.

•Hodgenville Fire House – 1:45 p.m.

•Smith’s Plaza –

2:45 p.m.

•Lincoln Plaza –

3:45 p.m.