CANTON - Toting a large box of Milk-Bone Dog Snacks, Sierra Swisher of Canton walked through the doors of Canton Area Elementary School Friday evening.

She brought 10 pounds of the doggie treats to be donated to the Bradford County Humane Society.

"We're big animal lovers," she said.

She wasn't the only one. A large cart was loaded up with various pet products that other people had brought to "Operation Help Santa" to benefit the shelter.

The organizers of the event, Girl Scout Brownie Troop 255 of Canton, had asked people to bring a donation of pet food and/or pet supplies to the holiday gathering, where the kids could visit Santa.

Diane and Robert Tomlinson, who were overseeing the activities, were pleased with the amount of donations, which included dog and cat food and cat litter.

Diane thought "quite a bit" had been brought to the school.

In the school's theaterette, toy trains chugged around big loops of tracks like tiny locomotives in an old-fashioned department store. Santa sat in a chair on the stage as children visited him, sharing their Christmas wish lists. A festive-looking elf stood by.

One of the children, Victor Brown of Canton, told Santa that he wanted "Spiderman stuff."

His grandma, Betty Bailey, thought the event was "wonderful" for the kids.

"This is just what they needed, it's good for their spirits." Snacks were available in the cafeteria.

Copies of a coloring/story book, "Canton & Troy Help Santa," were handed out to the children.

Robert Tomlinson, who has an associate's degree in graphic design, wrote and designed the book, specifically for the event. It features his children, Dylan and Tabitha Tomlinson.

In the story, the kids go to the humane society to adopt a pet, and choose "a fluffy white cat named Snowball."

Then, they both have a dream about "helping all the animals at the shelter," and later agree that they "would buy a little extra to donate" to the shelter, when they go shopping for Snowball.

But they also ask for help from Santa, who then assigns his "top elf" to "plan an event to gather food and supplies" to donate to the pets.

Robert Tomlinson, who uses the author name of R.J. Tomlinson for the book, ended the story by writing, "The event was a huge success that Santa was very proud to be a part of. With the help of the community, Santa was able to fulfill a Christmas wish."

According to the Tomlinsons, printing of the book was done by Gambal Printing in Wysox with help from the Dandy Mini Marts, First Citizens Community Bank and Bristol Excavating to cover the printing expense.

Others participating in the event included Marsha Krause, who was reading to the children, and Beverly Madigan, who played the piano.

Archie Kyle of the Ulster area donated the use of the trains.

Becky Colton of Canton, who brought her children, liked what she saw.

"I think it's cool," she said. "My son was so excited to come."

She thought the event taught the children the importance of helping others.

The Girl Scouts will hold the same type of event from 9 a.m. to noon today, Dec. 8, at the Allen F. Pierce Free Library in Troy.

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com