Monett's Santa Claus, Linn Thornton, has started his preparations to deliver toys to needy children in the Monett area and prepare a community dinner on Christmas day.
"This is going to be a busy one," Thornton said.
Heading into his 35th year distributing toys to children, Thornton has rebounded from recent poor health and will start distributing toys this weekend. He will again ask families to visit him at his workshop and pick up select items that will help make Christmas a true celebration.
"It will take quite a few toys to get it all done," Thornton said. "There are a lot of companies that are not working a full 40 hours so there's a lot of need."
Thornton is working with Crosslines and the Monett Jaycees, distributing donated toys. He is accepting donations from Monett industries and civic groups as well. With cash donations, Thornton said he is concentrating on purchasing small items to make dollars go farther. Donations of large items like bicycles will be accepted but he will not be seeking them out.
Arrangements to donate toys can be made by calling Thornton at 236-0222. Families seeking assistance can also call.
Thornton plans to make some of his regular appearances as Santa, especially for the children at the Barry-Lawrence County Development Center on Dec. 20.
This will also be the 28th year for Thornton's annual Christmas Day dinner. For the second year, the dinner will be held at the family living center at the First United Methodist Church, located at 1600 N. Central.
"I've got my cooks lined up," Thornton said. "Food prices are up. We'll do more chicken and turkey this year. Two brothers have provided me with some venison. We can use any kind of meat, anything people would like to donate."
The dinner will begin at 11 a.m. and run to 3 p.m. Thornton welcomes volunteers to help serve and make deliveries to shut-ins. Volunteers can come to the church on Dec. 25 at 9 a.m. People can call Thornton on Christmas Day to request a meal delivery.
The dinner is designed as an old-fashioned Christmas gathering for those who no longer can prepare a big meal or their own or who would like to spend the day in a friendly setting with others.
Thornton said his wife, Anna, has been slowed down in recent years by injuries, but will be helping in the thick of things this year.
"Between the two of us, we'll get it done," Thornton added