This year’s celebration of Santa Claus on St. George Island was low-key but homey, and very much in the holiday spirit.

Organizer Beth Brinkley said her committee decided to downsize the gifts distributed to youngsters at the celebration and donate more of the money raised to the Franklin Toy Project in view of hard times for many county families.

Children who visited Santa this year received reusable backpacks given by the St. George Island Business Association. Each pack contained fruit, candy and trinkets. There was also free cocoa and cookies for good little girls and boys.

Brinkley said about 100 children came to see Santa this year, significantly down from a peak of more than 300 two years ago.

“We had good comments from the kids who did attend,” said Brinkley. “They were very excited to get their packs.”

Two years ago, the celebration ran short of toys, forcing a last-minute trip to the Dollar General in Eastpoint. This year, there were actually some left over.

Brinkley said leftover baked goods were donated to the Holy Family Senior Center and leftover fruit was given to the Apalachicola Food Bank.

Once again, Santa’s faithful helper Chris Greggs, an employee of Resort Vacation Rentals, rode the fire engine to Lighthouse Park.

Brinkley said she wished to thank all of the island businesses who donated to make the celebration possible.

In addition to buying treats for the kiddies, some money was spent to repair and upgrade the holiday lighting at the center of the island this year.