Days Gone By: Santa's little helpers
DEC. 5, 1963 A story and photo appeared in the Dec. 5, 1963 River Falls Journal about four River Falls boys who found a different way to celebrate Christmas.
“About three years ago the boys decided to fix up some of their old toys to sell to raise some money. Then they decided it would be nicer in the Christmas spirit to give the toys away to needy children.
“Each year since then they have been fixing up toys and giving them to the county welfare offices for distribution to needy children in the area and taking some to the hospital at Chippewa Falls for the mentally retarded children.
“They have received repairable toys from many folks in this area, and Mrs. G.P. Helgeson gave them a bunch of toys when she closed out the dime store here. “Anyone who would want to donate toys, glue or paint to the boys or doll clothes for some of the dolls they are repairing or cookies to send to the children at the hospital might call HA5-5958.
“Somewhere between 300 and 400 toys were put into tip-top shape by the boys before they reached the most pleasant part of the task last Christmas — that of giving them to other youngsters. The big stack they hauled away from their home was enough to fill their car three times.
“A large number were taken to the Northern Wisconsin Colony and Training School at Chippewa Falls. Distribution of the rest was made both by the boys and the welfare agencies of the counties and went to Hudson, Burkhardt, New Richmond, Somerset, Baldwin, Wilson, Glenwood City, River Falls, Roberts and Ellsworth.
“Shortly before Christmas the Hovde boys received a letter from the Wisconsin Colony telling them their toys had been distributed to the various cottages, and that they would “make this Christmas a memorable one for individuals who are less fortunate than you.” A.C. Nelson, superintendent of the School, also wrote, “You are to be complimented for your fine work, your thoughtfulness, and your understanding of the real meaning of Christmas.”