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Santa's helper

Tom Jackson • Dec 21, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Santa Claus is trying to make sure every little girl and boy gets a toy for Christmas.


Santa can’t do it all, though, so he subcontracts much of the work in Sandusky to Phyllis Williams, a retired woman who has volunteered at Care and Share in downtown Sandusky for 13 years.


Williams, a Perkins Township resident, takes the toys donated to Care and Share and makes sure they are in good enough condition to find a new home. Some of the stuffed animals, for example, need a little love before they can obtain a new owner. “If they’ve got holes, we sew them” Williams said. “If they are dirty, I wash them” She takes dirty stuffed animals home, and they go into the wash with her own clothes.    


As she handles a large doll that’s just arrived in a box, she says, “This one is going to have to have her face washed, clothes put on her.”


Santa’s helper has a helper, too.

Mary Lou Kirner of Sandusky also helps with the toys. Kirner says she does “whatever Phyllis tells me”

Care and Share, located in downtown Sandusky, is a charity that provides emergency help to local families, including food and clothing. The charity gets most of its labor from volunteers such as Williams and relies upon donations for its toys.

“When people go through their toy boxes, their kids have outgrown the things, I get them” she said.

Little girls still want dolls and little boys still like toy cars, so they are in demand, Williams said, as are books. “We always need kids’ books,” she said.

Donations of toys and other goods have come flooding in since Linda Miller-Moore took over as the new executive director, Williams said.

“I don’t know how she did it, but she made a marvelous change,” Williams said. (Miller-Moore said she’s been active in talking to church groups and everyone else who is willing to listen).

Williams, who is retired, sometimes uses her training as a department head at Kaufmann’s department store. When a toy doesn’t move from the shelf at Care and Share, she’ll put it somewhere else.

She’s found getting people to take free items is less of a challenge than selling things.

“It’s easier here” she said.

Williams began volunteering at Care and Share when she retired from Kaufmann’s.

When she told the Rev. Nick Weibl, then a pastor at Holy Angels Catholic Church in Sandusky, that she wasn’t sure what she’d do with herself, Weibl pointed her to Care and Share.

“He said he knew what I was going to do,” Williams said. “I’ve been here ever since”

Weibl, now the pastor at St. Wendelin Parish in Fostoria, said when he was at Holy Angels, Williams was a quiet person who always stepped up to do whatever work was needed.

“What she’s doing now certainly fits” he said. “The folks at Holy Angels were always those kinds of people. When something needed to be done, they did it”

Williams began handling clothing but moved to toys several years ago.

Williams is at Care and Share every day the charity is open, putting in a several-hour shift in the toy department.

She explained she keeps at it because she believes God helped her when she went through a difficult divorce, struggling successfully to raise four kids and keep her house.

“God was very good to me, and he helped me. I’m trying to pay him back” she said.

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