Tri-State 'Santa' expanding workshop

-------------Update, December 8, 2009------------------

A Tri-State Santa needs your help to make Christmas a little brighter for some local children.

You might recall a story we brought you in October about a self-made Santa Clause named Jack Bailey who's taken it upon himself to bring Christmas surprises to needy kids.

He opened up Santa's Workshop in Beardstown to refurbish old toys and accept new toy donations.

Last year, he helped 400 children.

But with the current economy even more families need his help. So far, he's received *two thousand* requests for toys.

He's delivered Christmas gifts to more than 500 children since Saturday, but he needs your help to make sure every child gets a Christmas.

He told KHQA he lacks toys for children ages ten and up.

In fact he has 450 kids that age who will not get a Christmas present without your help.

If you would like to donate new or used toys, call Santa's Workshop at (217) 617-3097 or (217) 491-3639.

------------------October 14, 2009---------------

A Tri-State man is expanding his efforts to bring the spirit of Christmas to more area children.

You might recall a story we brought you last year, about a Rushville man who opened up his own Santa's Workshop on Rushville's town square. There he constructs handmade wooden toys and collects other toy donations in order to put gifts under the tree for needy children.

But with the current economy even more families are looking for help.

What was last Christmas like?

Jack Bailey, Santa said, "A turmoil. We had thought we would help 100 to 150 children. But all of a sudden the numbers grew to around 389."

But every one of those children got a Christmas, all thanks to the Tri-States' resident Santa Claus. Jack Bailey retired a couple years ago and saw the need in the community after playing Santa at a local Walmart. Now he's the real deal, donning a beard and creating hand made toys and like these doll cradles and jewelry boxes as well as refurbishing used toys.

Bailey or Santa as many call him says the need is even greater this year. Already he has more than 900 children on his list for toys. But with two months left til Christmas, by the time he makes his list and checks it twice, it will be much longer.

But due to the huge need, Bailey was running out of room in his first workshop.

Baley said, "We had one and a half feet of an aisle in the store and I had no room to work."

That's when a local benefactor stepped forward, donating space in a building in Beardstown. The workshop moved in and now is getting help from area residents, the Beardstown Kiwanis Club and Beardstown charter school to set up shop. On the main level will be the workshop, where Bailey will again make his wooden rocking horses and cradles. Upstairs parents will be able to pick out finished gifts for their children and wrap them.

Why do this?

Bailey said, "I can't see children going without. I just can't."

But the Santa's Workshop needs your help. These piles of toys may seem like a lot but doesn't come close to what's needed to help more than 900 children on the waiting list. Also you can see there are no lights, no electricity and no heat. Donations are needed for that as well as for materials to help build the handmade toys like cradles and jewelry boxes.

But regardless of what happens, Bailey says he'll still be making deliveries in his Santa suit again this year.

So with a little elbow grease and lots of love, one man and his community is putting gifts under the tree for needy children again this year.

Bailey needs your help to help his work along now so he has enough materials before Christmas. If you would like to donate used toys or lumber to build his homemade toys contact Santa's Workshop at 217-491-3639.

There's also a "Pack the truck" toy drive the entire month of November at Jennings GM dealer in Beardstown.

By the way, Christmas is just 2 months and 11 days away.