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Toys for Tots to continue

Patty Foley, above, and friends plan to spearhead this year’s Christmas gift giving intiative to families in need. Her children, from left, Quinn, 8, Sophie, 4, and Connor, 5, have been recipients of gifts at Christmas from the Park Rapids gift giving initiatives, Caring and Sharing and Toys for Tots. (Submitted photo)

By Jean Ruzicka

A new Santa has stepped forward to pick up the reins.

The Park Rapids air traffic controller will spot Rudolph and the gang coming in for a landing at Konshok Field this Christmas Eve, towing a sleigh full of toys.

Patty Foley of Menahga, learning Caring and Sharing and the Antique Tractor Club’s gift giving initiatives had come to an end, wants to see the project continue.

“I was a recipient,” said the single mother of three who moved back to the area two years ago. “This is the first year I won’t be using the program. As a Christian, Christmas means a lot to our family.”

Despite the anonymity, the gifts “signified love,” she said, “compassion, a boost in a time of need.”

These were the gifts from Santa, she said of her children awakening to presents under the tree.

This year, Quinn, 8, Connor, 5, and Sophie, 4, “won’t need this,” she said. But Foley wants the gift-giving tradition to continue in the Park Rapids area.

Foley and her recruited elves SaNona DeBlieck-Leone and Maria Pickett – “compassionate people who look to being a big part of this” – will be setting up a Toys for Tots in Park Rapids.

Similar to Caring and Sharing, they will be recruiting churches, families, businesses and organizations who will adopt a family. The adopting parties will be apprised of ages, sex, sizes and gift suggestions for kids ages 0 to 16.

Parties wishing to adopt a family may call Foley at 218-616-2650 or DeBlieck-Leone at 732-4853.

They plan to go to local businesses to ask if they might set up drop boxes for gifts and welcome monetary donations.

Families in need may sign up at the Park Rapids American Legion from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 15 and from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23.

“It’s all about the kids,” said Pickett, “a busy mom of four” who wants to “keep the program going and help families during a special holiday.”

The location and date for the gifts to be distributed has not yet been determined, Foley said.