It was a daunting task. Hundreds of toys, big and small, needed to be wrapped, tagged and ready for Santa to deliver. It all had to be done in just one evening. No need to worry, however. The St. James Sports Club was up to the challenge as they have been for more than 40 years.

It was a daunting task. Hundreds of toys, big and small, needed to be wrapped, tagged and ready for Santa to deliver. It all had to be done in just one evening. No need to worry, however. The St. James Sports Club was up to the challenge as they have been for more than 40 years.
“We started collecting toys for needy families back in 1975,” said St. James Sports Club Treasurer, Mike Gann.
He said that back then, it was just a few families and two or three tables of toys and a lot of chaos.
“Now, it has become a well organized operation,” he added. “We come together on a Friday in December and personally deliver the gifts on Sunday.”
When they are not wrapping toys, the Sports Club financially supports a long list of  youth organizations such as scouts and boys and girls sports teams.
This year's wrapping party was on Friday, December 15 and included present wrappers young and old.
“They got me my own table and room this year,” quipped Donna Halbrook who has been a dedicated wrapper for close to a decade. “They give me the big orders. It's nice to know that these kids will have something under the tree this year. I'll be here till the last toy is wrapped.”
That could mean till 11 or 12  o'clock at night. There were, however, plenty of good eats and holiday cheer to keep the wrapping party alive.
Gann said that they had 110 families sign up this season. That equates to close to 275 children from ages 0 to 18. Each child receives four gifts. All the gifts are new and arrive throughout the year through toy drives and donations.
Abby and  Courtney  DeLuca were “shopping” the mountain of toys piled up on the Sports Club's folding tables. As they decided whether to pick out a game or a craft set for the children on their list, they told The Rolla Daily News that this was their first year volunteering.
“Our mom told us it would be a fun time and a chance to give back to the community,” said 16-year-old Abby. “So far, so good.”
Last Friday's gathering was just the start of spreading Christmas cheer for members of the Sports Club. On Sunday, members donned white beards and Santa outfits and packed up their pick-up trucks with the bags of wrapped toys and  went through St. James delivering the gifts.
“This is where the magic occurs,” noted long-time, club member Steve Enke. “We will pull up and see a tiny face peeking out the window, and then another, when they realize Santa has arrived. Then, when they open the door—the kids  are in awe. It certainly makes you feel good as our gifts from Santa might be the only gifts these children will receive.”