Help fill Santa’s sleigh with toys for the Rotary Christmas Basket program during the Optimist Club Christmas Parade by donating a toy, cash or a check that Interact Club “elves” will be happy to take when they accompany the sleigh at Saturday’s parade!

Help fill Santa’s sleigh
with toys for Rotary Christmas
Baskets at Saturday’s parade

November 26, 2014
Santa Paula News

Christmas Basket donation boxes have started to appear all over town and Santa Paula Rotarians are hoping you’ll “Believe!” in the joy of bringing holiday cheer to local needy families by giving a child a gift... and they’ll make it easy for you.

Just bring an unwrapped toy, or even a monetary donation, to Saturday’s 67th Annual Optimist Club Christmas Parade where Santa’s sleigh will be an entry including Elves who’ll collect donations along the route. 

Santa won’t be riding in the sleigh but rather keeping it empty to better enable all to fill it with toys... besides, he loves riding the Santa Paula Fire Engine to close the parade.

Rotarian Scott Dunbar built the 16-foot-long sleigh: “I always wanted one, just in case... you never know when it might come in handy. The truck I’ll pull it with will have a big red nose and antlers,” to resemble Santa’s famed lead reindeer Rudolph.   

“With the forced closure of our Faulkner Farm Pumpkin Patch, we’re really hurting for the funds to bring Christmas cheer to about 500 needy Santa Paula families,” said Rotarian Jason Cole, Chairman of the 2014 Christmas Basket Fund.

For seven years the month-long patch provided almost $100,000 to the Rotary Club, which was distributed throughout the community to other nonprofit organizations and programs.

The revenue also helped fund the Christmas Basket program that includes not only food for a holiday feast and a few days of tasty leftovers but also a toy for each child in the family, selected specifically for their age and gender. In many households the Christmas Basket presents are the only ones the children will receive.

Rotarians encourage toy donations that children can use to play together such as games and sports equipment as well as gifts for older children, but all are welcome.

Although the generous community also donates food and other items for the baskets, Cole said, “Christmas is for kids and that means a toy, a game, a basketball or a doll... and please remember we need gifts for the children ages 15-17, including gift cards, make-up, cameras, MP3 players, hair accessories, etc. This age group is always a bit forgotten.”

The sleigh in Saturday’s parade will make other appearances to spur donations: Dunbar hopes to park it at Fire Station 1 on South 10th Street immediately following the parade and thereafter move throughout town to give all an easy way to make a donation.

“We’ll also keep it parked on and off at our Troop Real Estate office,” located at the corner of 8th and Main streets. 

Dunbar noted he doesn’t want to oversell how impressive the sleigh is: “It is just painted plywood, not magic... except to some.”

And perhaps that magic will cause the already generous Santa Paula community to fill that sleigh for children whose families underwent a rigorous screening process to determine need.

But he added, “It will be all dolled up... and we’ll have an 8-foot tall Christmas penguin in the back, all smiles, our Interact Club kids wearing elf hats collecting donations,” and providing more fun for those who enjoy the show as well as the experience of giving with a Christmas Basket donation.

“We ‘Believe’ that more fortunate Santa Paulans will again make this a joyous holiday for everyone, especially children and youth,” said Cole.

A toy, a dollar, whatever: be sure to count your blessings and share with others this holiday season.

The Optimist Club Christmas Parade, led by Grand Marshal Lorenzo Moraza, will step out from 7th Street onto East Main Street at 10 a.m. 

Rotary Christmas Basket donations are now being accepted throughout the city at businesses, City Hall, police and fire stations, and schools, among others.

Remember: the success of the Rotary Christmas Basket Program is largely dependent on the legendary generosity of the Santa Paula community. Students, churches, Scout troops, clubs, and mobile home parks have all contributed in the past showing their support to help our Santa Paulans in need this Christmas season. 

If you are able to donate to the program, please do so by visiting any of the donation centers to drop off toys and canned food. 

Monetary contributions may be given to any Santa Paula Rotary Club member or mailed to the Rotary Club at P.O. Box 809, Santa Paula, CA  93061. Please make all checks payable to Santa Paula Rotary Christmas Basket Fund. 

Visit the Rotary website at or send an email to for more information, or speak with any Rotary Club of Santa Paula member. 

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