HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A parent unexpectedly loses a job. A fire leaves a family with nothing. A sudden illness wipes out meager savings.
When these things happen, Christmas lists can become impossible to fill. That's where Santa's Helpers comes in.
The charity, founded by Barbara Thomas and her husband seven years ago, provides gifts to children in the Madison County area who have fallen through the cracks of other holiday support services. "We're a last-stop effort," Thomas says.
When Thomas hears about a family who just moved to town, penniless, or a little boy who has asked Santa for a new pair of shoes because the other children make fun of the holes in his, she goes to work.
She and her family hold yard sales, collect aluminum cans and sell scrap metal to raise the money to buy and repair toys.
Thomas estimates she spends 10 hours a day, six days a week on this labor of love, but even that may not be enough.
Monetary donations are almost non-existent this year. She never knows if she'll be able to afford the monthly rent for her operation on Highway 72 East and says she desperately needs a secure storage space - especially for the children's bikes.
While a generous donor stepped forward last year, that help is no longer available. With Christmas nine weeks away, Thomas says, "we need space. We need volunteers. We need sponsors. We're beginning to panic."
Thomas says she has applied for non-profit status and has been told the application is pending approval. Once it's granted, she says any contributions will be retroactively tax-deductible. She's hoping more people in the community will consider Santa's Helpers as they make their charitable plans this holiday season.
If you would like to help Santa's Helpers, Thomas may be reached at (256) 682-6882. The charity will begin accepting applications for Christmas gifts on November 15th.