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Operation Santa a success

Elks Mighty Southwest District and Walgreens provide hundreds of toys for Myakka City's Operation Santa.

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Darrin Simone looked at the mountain of toys piled up at the Lakewood Ranch Elks Lodge.

"They're going to need another truck," he said of the Operation Santa 2020 organizers who were coming Dec. 14 to pick up the donations.

Simone headed the Elks Mighty Southwest District Toy Drive with Walgreens and the result was impressive. Hundreds of toys were ready to be distributed by the Operation Santa 2020 nonprofit out of Myakka City.

Brett Davis, a past district deputy for the Elks, said people in the community just seemed to know it was more important than ever to donate because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the hardships created.

"People know," Davis said. "They needed more."

Simone and other Elks volunteers went to 27 Walgreens stores that had a collection box that were filled by their customers.

When Dolly Johnson, who started Operation Santa with her husband Gary, saw the collection of toys, she started to cry.

"This is the biggest donation we've ever received," she said. "I know people personally who have had such a hard year. The first year we started this we helped seven families. Last year we had 249 families come to us from everywhere. It will be more this year.

"This donation will mean there won't be a child (in Myakka City) who won't have something under the tree."

Operation Santa 2020 is operating out of the Silver Star East restaurant, 36521 S.R. 70, Myakka City ( for anyone who wants to make a donation.




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