No, Santa's workshop didn't relocate to Arbutus.
It just might have looked that way when Southwest Emergency Services held its annual Toy Giveaway at Arbutus United Methodist Church on Dec. 9.
New board games, sporting equipment, dolls, purses and various types of clothing along with other gently used items were so plentiful that they practically spilled off the tables.
Wearing reindeer antlers and earrings that blinked like Christmas light bulbs, SWES director Betty Okonski orchestrated the event, which served 297 families in the 21227 ZIP code.
Even though the invitation-only event helped nearly 300 families, Okonski said she expected more to come.
"It went good, but we had 100 no shows, which we can't understand," Okonski said.
The day started off slowly with only just over 100 families coming to the giveaway by 12:15 p.m.
Upon hearing the news, the volunteers, many of whom had been at the church since 7 a.m., braced themselves for a busy afternoon.
As the volunteers grabbed a quick lunch break, new shoppers started lining up outside the church.
By 1:15 p.m. nearly two dozen people patiently waited their turn to shop as the elves prepared to make the holidays a happy time.
Even though the slow start proved too much to overcome, Okonski said she still considered the event a success.
Okonski relied on her shrewd shopping skills to provide most of the gifts for children from toddlers to teens.
"I'm a good shopper, so you can't put a value on how much money I spent," Okonski said. "It's how much I got for the money I spent."
Okonski estimated that she could buy $1,000 worth of toys for only $300 at a Kohl's Department Store.
In addition to the fruits of Okonski's shopping prowess, she said she received donations, including toys from the 18 Hole Ladies Group of Rolling Road Golf Club.
Assisting Okonski at the giveaway, 54 volunteers, which she called elves, escorted "shoppers" through the inventory and restocked toys and clothing.
Nancy Meier has volunteered at SWES for five years and at the Toy Giveaway for three.
The Catonsville resident recalled one year when she met a woman at the event who looked depressed.
Meier said by the time the woman finished shopping she had a smile on her face and gave Meier a hug.
"It's just wonderful to see that you're giving a little more Christmas to people," Meier said.