Charles, 78, wants a walking cane and animal picture books. Aaliyah, 1, hopes for tennis shoes and a sweater.
Their Christmas wishes are part of a campaign by local charities to provide toys and gifts to more than 36,000 Sonoma County children and adults in need, a number that remains high due to the slumping economy, campaign organizers said.
"Our goal is to fulfill every wish that comes in," said Eunice Valentine, executive director of the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, which runs the Secret Santa program.
More than 8,000 of the program's red plastic hearts bearing gift requests from people of all ages, infants to elderly, are now on trees at 109 locations around Sonoma County, including 66 in Santa Rosa, and more will go up between now and the campaign's Dec. 19 deadline.
By the end of the program, Secret Santa expects to provide gifts to 14,000 to 15,000 people, whose wishes were submitted by about 100 local non-profit agencies, including public schools.
For details on Secret Santa, including a list of tree locations and an online gift registration page, which is new this year, go to www.volunteernow.org.
Santa Rosa and Rincon Valley firefighters, Marine Corps veterans and a North Bay nonprofit called Operation Elf are also collecting gifts, toys and cash this season:
-- Collection barrels for the Toys for Kids program, conducted by Santa Rosa Firefighters Local 1401, are at the 11 fire stations in Santa Rosa and Rincon Valley through Dec. 24.
Donations of new, unwrapped toys and cash will be used to provide gifts for more than 12,000 children in needy families, said Tony Niel, a Santa Rosa firefighter coordinating the campaign.
"We really need your help to make these little kids' Christmas special," Niel said.
A pancake breakfast to raise money for Toys for Kids will be from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. Admission is $5 or a new, unwrapped gift.
Firefighters will begin staffing a site to accept toys and cash at the Santa Rosa Plaza on Dec. 7.
-- The Marine Corps Reserve Foundation sponsors a nationwide Toys for Tots campaign, started in 1947 by Marines looking for a service opportunity after World War II.
In Sonoma County, the program provided toys to more than 9,000 children last year and expects requests from local organizations to reach 10,000 this year, said Steve Bosshard, a former Marine who heads the local campaign.
New, unwrapped toys and cash may be dropped off through Dec. 16 at scores of locations countywide, including 85 in Santa Rosa. For details, go to www.toysfortots.org.
Many donors buy gifts for elementary school-aged children, Bosshard said, noting that the program needs gifts for infants and teens, as well.
-- Operation Elf North Bay, a nonprofit organization, aims to raise $20,000 to buy gifts for all members of 65 low-income families in Sonoma and Marin counties, said Gary Waltenspiel, the North Bay campaign manager.
The program has raised $5,000 and hopes to collect another $15,000 by Thursday, he said. Checks may be mailed to: Operation Elf North Bay, 1050 Northgate Drive, Patio A, San Rafael, 94903.
Operation Elf is affiliated with Young Men's Ultimate Weekend, a non-profit mentoring program founded in 2000.
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