BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The celebrated and unique Fort Madison Santa Store is gearing up again for the annual children’s shopping season.
P.A.W. animal shelter Director Sandy Brown, who’s been a part of the children’s shopping event since its inception 10 years ago, said this year’s event will take place at the St. Paul Lutheran Church on the corner of 19th Street and Avenue I.
Proceeds from this year’s event will go to the services the animal shelter provides.
“This is our first year as far as P.A.W. organizing the event, but it’s my 10th year,” Brown said. “This is a fundraiser for the animal shelter and all the money will got to P.A.W.”
The event was created in 2008 as a fundraising mechanism for the city’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau and that group was disbanded, but the fundraiser kept going.
When the money stopped going to CVB, the five-member board putting the shopping spree on split the money and donated it to their favorite local charity.
The store will be open on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and children ages 3 to 10 can come in and pick six gifts for $5. Staff on hand will wrap and bag the gifts. Parents are not allowed to shop with the children. Volunteer elves will escort the children through the tables of gifts and help them get everything wrapped and ready to put under the tree at home.
Brown said the volunteers are looking for gently used donations for the store, but no clothing can be accepted. Donations can be dropped at the church on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. They can also be delivered to the P.A.W. animal shelter during normal business hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Brown said, in special circumstances, a pick up of donations can be arranged if necessary, but volunteers prefer to have the donations dropped off.
“We also welcome monetary donations that we can earmark for sponsorships of children. We do have families with four or five children that can’t afford the $5 per child and we use those donations to sponsor children,” Brown said. “We want to make sure the families that can’t afford it have the opportunity.”
There will also be open hours on Dec. 10th and 11th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. where the public can come in and shop at the $5-for-six gift rate, but Brown said there will also be some other items that will be priced to sell.
For more information on this year’s Santa Store, call Brown at 319-470-3291.