ELLSWORTH — This holiday season, the city of Ellsworth is spearheading a toy drive at the heart of the municipality — City Hall.
“It’s our first time,” said Deputy City Clerk Katina Howes.
In past years, Ellsworth funded holiday gifts for kids through the nickels and dimes collected from returnables at the city’s recycling center, with monies directed toward Christmas and providing backpacks for children in need. But because recycling funds were low this year, Howes said the city would not have been able to help as many kids as in past years. So, City Clerk Heidi Grindle arrived at the toy drive.
Two boxes inside City Hall are already near full, as is the area around a decorated tree in the front lobby.
“I think everybody is realizing the need,” Howes said. “We’ve had a lot of calls coming in asking if the city is in need of toys, which is a first for us.”
Unwrapped gifts may be dropped off at City Hall through Dec. 18.
“If they come wrapped, we unwrap them,” Howes said, to better determine who receives each gift. A local organization provides a list to City Hall. Requested items include mittens, snow pants, winter hats, craft supplies, board games and puzzles. While new items are expected, Howes said any recycled gifts would be channeled to the appropriate agency for distribution.
City Hall will also be collecting letters to Santa this year. The effort is being organized by city staffers Bobbi Roberts and Toni Dyer, with replies guaranteed for letters dropped into Santa’s mailbox by Dec. 18.
The public library also has a Santa mailbox placed outside its entrance. There, too, letters to Santa will receive replies if delivered by Dec. 18.
“If it’s too late, Santa won’t be able to get back to them,” said staffer Keli Gancos. Gancos is overseeing Santa’s mailbox, where letters to the jolly man in red will “magically get taken to the North Pole.”