DAVIS ISLANDS — Christmas is coming and Santa is on the way to the islands to collect toys and gifts for children in the 18th annual Davis Islands Toy Drive from 4-9 p.m. Sunday (Dec 9).
Jeanne Lavettre and her sister Eileen Goldenberg started the idea in 2000 to capture the spirit of giving and help those in the community that are less fortunate enjoy the holidays.
A well-decorated sleigh with Santa at the helm collects more than more than 3,000 toys, including games and even new bikes, that eventually go to 15-plus local charities servicing less fortunate children and teenagers. Many of these toys come from many Davis Islands residents who donate new, unwrapped toys for children of all ages.
On the night of the event, the hosts organize big parties for their surrounding neighbors with food and live music. Santa makes 23 stops along the islands in his sleigh which has life size reindeer.
Volunteers dress as elves and empty the sleigh every few stops and bring the toys to a garage for sorting. At the conclusion of the event, they organize it into categories such as games, toddler, teens, and about 10 others to make it easy for the children to pick what they want.
Goldenberg, who is also an artist, hand painted the sleigh and life sized reindeer. Before Thanksgiving, hand-painted wooden signs appear in the yards of the hosts.
"It's so much fun for kids and adults to see the sleigh and reindeer driving up," said Eileen Goldenberg in an email.
"The excitement on the children's faces as they line up to give Santa a toy is heartwarming."
Virginia Park and Harbour Island have copied the idea and have run their own "Santa Sleigh Toy Drive for years. Goldberg said they would like to see more neighborhoods replicate the effort.
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