For three decades Love Santa, Inc., has helped families through the holiday season; that continues this year, albeit in a slightly different manner.

COURTESY PHOTO: LOVE SANTA - Gifts have always been a part of Love Santa, Inc., helping hand. But this year the Woodburn-area nonprofit will be focused on helping families with food.During its modest 1990 inception, Love Santa, Inc., ensured that more than two dozen youngsters had a little brighter Christmas than they would have otherwise.

That number multiplied over the ensuing years and decades to where, in recent years, more than 375 families and 1,000 kids were helped out during the holiday season by this nonprofit serving the Woodburn, Hubbard, Donald and Aurora areas. That won't change this year, but the manner in which Love Santa will operate will.

One big change is there will be no gifts this year; the giving will be entirely food-oriented. Local school districts will continue to reach out to families needing help, but that process has been altered amid the pandemic climate as well.

"We are going about it a different way this year," said Love Santa President Robert Prinslow. "The school districts have home contact staff, Woodburn School District and North Marion School District. They make contact with the assigned students. We've reached out to the school districts using their home contact as a tool, and they are doing to the bulk of the signups.

"This year we are asking (signups) much fewer questions. We are doing it all remotely or through the school contact. We will have enough (resources) to help 450 families if get them to sign up."

This will be done entirely via food boxes. The group has focused its funds and energy on creating food boxes that will serve each family, in large part since the volunteer force has a different complexion due to COVID-19.

"We can't get enough of the volunteers that we would need to sort toys and determine which ones are gender and age-appropriate," Prinslow said. "A lot of our volunteers are seniors and retired persons, and they don't want to be out and about so much this year, and that makes perfect sense."COURTESY PHOTO: LOVE SANTA - Supplies mount and boxes are ready as Woodburn-area nonprofit Love Santa, Inc., gets ready to furnish up to 450 families with food boxes this year.

Love Santa has been working more closely with local businesses and civic groups this year by necessity, including Newberg Grocery Outlet, which is providing the labor to load the food boxes, and the Woodburn Chamber of Commerce, which through its members is finding creative ways to raise funds.

Given the nature of this year's focus, funding is paramount. Food donations can't be accepted from hundreds of households as in the past, so the group has to shop for the provisions it will deliver.

"Right now our focus is trying to pay for the food boxes," Prinslow said. "We don't have one big source of donated food, and we have to be cautious, so we can't accept food from hundreds of homes; we are purchasing food items and items to go into the food boxes.

"I tell people if they wish to donate this year, donate funds."

Once all the elements come together, the final push will resemble a shotgun start at the golf course.

"We will pull everyone in and do one main distribution in the Woodburn, Hubbard, Donald and Aurora areas," Prinslow said.

Love Santa, Inc.


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- Community comes together to support local families at Christmas