A group of Kent merchants has banded together to bring Santa to town and help Kent Social Services make Christmas special for needy families in the process.
From 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Santa Claus will be at Hometown Plaza at Water and Main streets in Kent to greet children and help fill a van provided by Woodsy's Music with unwrapped toys and nonperishable food for Kent Social Services.
Kent Social Services will deliver the toys and food on Dec. 18 and 19, but in the meantime, donations will be collected at 15 locations in Kent: Sue Nelson Designs, Image Consultants, Hometown Bank, Patricia Sparks CranioSacral Therapy, Baked in the Village Café, Woodsy's Music, Pufferbelly Restaurant, Kent Jewelry
City Bank Antiques, Guy's Pizza, Dominic's, Franklin Square Deli, The Kent Stage, Hall Green Insurance and a 24-hour box at the Kent Fire Department.
"We're really trying to help (Kent Social Services) because there's a big need this year," said Sue Nelson.
Kent Social Services manager Christie Anderson said the toys and food will be provided to more than 600 children in 247 families in the Kent City School District.
"The challenge, I think, for parents right now is the ongoing increase in fuel costs, which have certainly impacted those who are working and are at low-paying jobs," Anderson said. "They have to use their limited resources to keep the utilities on, their housing and the basic needs so, unfortunately, even though many of us realize the importance of being able to provide toys to our children at Christmas, they've have to cut back."
Anderson said parents who bring their children to see Santa on Saturday are encouraged to bring a toy donation as well.
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