A nonprofit organization in western Iowa’s offering a sweet reward for summertime Santas, during a collection drive called “Christmas in July.” Orien Hodges is President of Santa’s Children Christmas Village in the Pottawattamie County community of Walnut. He said to cool things off during the month of July and collect books, toys and other things to take on Santa visits throughout the year, they put together “Christmas in July” so any day this month anyone who brings in a gift will get a free root beer float “to cool ’em off a little bit.” In addition to gathering toys and clothes, Santa’s Children hopes to recruit volunteers. Hodges says many volunteers come from other parts of the country and they hope to recruit more. For six years now, those volunteers have visited for Christmas or any other time of the year they’re needed, by children suffering from life-threatening illness and those in crisis situations. Since 1978 he says they’ve visited more than 7,000 kids and their caregivers all over the midwest. From Chicago to St-Louis to Nebraska, they’ve also worked with other qualified children’s charities, Hodges says Santa’s Children Christmas Village is working with a new organization this year, called “K.I.D.S, ” which stands for Kids in Distressed Situations.The New -York based organization works with more than 800 manufacturers and large retailers who donate new, unsold merchandise, and SCCV has been designated a recipient agency for Iowa and Nebraska. Hodges says they’ll work with local fire departments to find kids who are very sick or in crisis and give them the gifts and clothing at no charge. He says their organization would eventually like to develop a Santa Village and camping facility. He hopes fire departments can help transport kids and their families from all over Iowa and Nebraska, to come through the Santa Village, pick out shoes and clothing, and choose games and toys to take home. That’s why the organization’s asking for toys, books and other gift items this time of year, for giving year-round. When you can bring a toy, clothes or cash donations to Santa’s House from 11 a.m. to Seven-p.m. Saturdays during the month of July, you’ll be treated to a hot dog, hamburger, ribeye or tenderloin sandwich and an ice-cream treat. For more information, call 712-784-7268.Rick Hansen, KJAN, Atlantic