Santa’s elves come in all ages and sizes and they have not forgotten the Forgotten Coast. Sheriff Mike’s Toy Drive has always been a special project for many groups, such as the Coastal Community Association, and this year Dyslexia Research Institute joined in the project.

Last month, DRI put a call out to 1,400 private schools that accept the McKay Scholarship, a state sponsored scholarship for students with disabilities. Knowing our local elves are overwhelmed by the events of the past two months, Robyn Rennick, Program Director of DRI, challenged the schools to send presents for the toy drive.

The presents have begun pouring in.

Last Friday the South Gulf County Volunteer Fire Department helped to move a trailer full of bikes, toys, games, sports balls and more to the St. Joseph Bay Golf Club where they will be organized for the Sheriff’s Toy Drive.

This past weekend Tim Vanderveer of Ruskin Christian School drove from Ruskin, Florida, (684 mile round trip) to deliver tons of presents from his students and staff. Arbor School of Central Florida is getting ready to ship boxes and boxes of presents. And the boxes from UPS keep coming in from other McKay schools.

It takes many hands, and many elves, to make this Toy Drive a success and Port St. Joe is blessed to have so many from outside of our community willing to be those elves. We don’t always know who has sent the presents but thanks go out to Ethan, B, C and Tarzan the dog, Shirley, the New Leaf School for Change, and Madison County HS High School High Tech Club and so many more whose name Santa knows.

Dyslexia Research Institute is a not-for profit that had been based in Tallahassee for 40 years and had operated Woodland Hall Academy, a school for dyslexic/ADHD students, and has run the PSJHS High School High Tech Program for the past 12 years. DRI also is the Association Manager for The Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools which serves 1,400 private schools throughout Florida. DRI moved their base of operations to Port St. Joe in August. Dr. Pat Hardman is the founder and CEO of Dyslexia Research Institute.

We deeply appreciate all the work and effort these schools have done to have toys for all the kids in Gulf County. We hope they all have the Merriest Christmas because they have made Christmas for our Gulf County kids.