Christmas for Everyone campaign starts early after Petrolia flooding file photo (Photo by Paul Pedro)

Santa’s helpers are being called into work early this year in order to pull off the Christmas for Everyone campaign in Petrolia and Central Lambton.

Coordinator Sandra Hartman said thousands of dollars worth of toys were destroyed when the basement of the former PUC building in Petrolia flooded during severe thunderstorms — with torrential rain — last Wednesday.

“It’s not something that can be salvageable, because it came up through the drains, they were all backing up, assuming from the sewer,” said Hartman. “So, everything pretty much has to be thrown out that was touched by the water.”

Hartman estimated that $5,000 to $6,000 worth of toys were ruined.

“At this point, we probably won’t go through the insurance because it would end up costing us a lot more money than to just try to recoup and hopefully have some donations start now as a second donation event,” said Hartman.

Hartman planned to update the Christmas for Everyone Facebook page once she had a handle on what was needed again.

“We pretty much lost all dolls. Not barbie dolls, but little girl dolls to play with, the strollers that they go with and the bassinet that they use to carry them. So those kind of toys would be great,” said Hartman.

She said gift cards and cash donations will allow them to purchase exactly what’s needed.

Donations can be dropped off at the Food Bank at 4156 Petrolia Line.

The Independent newspaper, located in the same building, is also accepting donations on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Holiday boxes with toys for both boys and girls are delivered to about 400 families in need each December.