Volunteers work at the Madison Civic Center in 2018 to distribute toys for Secret Santa.

BOONE COUNTY — The Secret Santa Foundation will serve underprivileged Boone County children once again in 2019 through volunteerism and individual and corporate contributions.

Active since 1984, the organization will serve over 600 children in the county with Christmas gifts, a number that is slightly down from 2018.

Boone County Coordinator Tony Harshbarger said that while volunteers are welcomed during distribution times, fresh ideas are sought throughout the year.

“We meet once a month and we’d really like to see more volunteers attend the meetings and offer a fresh perspective and offer new ideas,” he said. “You don’t have to attend every month but when you can, it is appreciated.”

According to its web site, the Charleston-based Secret Santa Foundation provides toys requested by the children in need. Each child completes a “wish list” of three toys and returns it to Secret Santa. The child is matched with a sponsor, or “Secret Santa,” who is responsible for purchasing the toys on the list. Each gift is approximately $25. The sponsor is given the child’s first name, an identification number, and the child’s wish list. The gifts are labeled and bagged before they are delivered to a drop off site by the sponsor. During the first week of December, the gifts are then gathered and brought to one central distribution point where they are sorted, counted and bundled for the parents to pick up before Christmas.

Through the “Christmas Bureau Database,” multiple organizations can track participating families who register; this helps to prevent people from receiving gifts from multiple organizations, which can dwindle the availability of toys for needy families.

The organization looks to appropriate $75 per child.

Serving newborns to 12-year-olds, the organization depends on volunteers to make the distribution run smoothly.

“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of help from the folks in Boone County and we appreciate their effort,” Harshbarger added. “We’re gearing up for another successful season.”

With Putnam and Kanawha counties being served from the South Charleston Community Center, the distribution of toys from Secret Santa in Boone County will be held at the Madison Civic Center on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 1-3 p.m. Volunteers are still needed in Boone County. Those picking up toys will need proper identification and a letter back from Secret Santa. Visit wvsecretsanta.org for more information.