Suncoast Santa flies away, community center tries to fill void


LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The Suncoast Santa has disappeared from North Fort Myers as a toy giveaway event. Now, the community center in Suncoast Estates is trying to fill the void by doing an emergency toy collection and planning for the event on December 20th.

“There’s a lot of single parents, male or female, that they’re paying their bills and they just don’t have money for toys for their kids,”  said Anthony Stewart, director of the community center.

“It’s disappointing not to have it anymore. To see a smile on a child’s face, to get something for Christmas, it really is, it’s important,” said resident Debbie Cohen. She has received toys from Suncoast Santa in past years for her grandchildren.

George Tanner was the driving force behind the Santa program. Tanner spent months every year, amassing toys for the sleigh ride in December. This year, Tanner moved out of state for personal reasons.

Stewart is pushing to fill the void for the departed Santa. He is asking for donations and money, so the center can have 1,200 toys for the giveaway.

“This is one of the important things that we’re trying to do, is give every kid a toy for Christmas, just like Mr. Tanner did,” added Stewart.

The community center is accepting new, unwrapped toys for children of all ages, for the next week. It also will accept monetary donations.

If you’d like to help, you can contact the community center at 239-731-9838.

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