A kingdom's monarchs, warriors and other residents of lands far away and styled after a time long ago came to Jefferson City to make Christmas gifts possible for children in need, particularly after a criminal raid.
The Society for Creative Anachronism's Kingdom of Calontir turned Thomas Jefferson Middle School's gym and cafeteria into a community gathering and combat competition space Saturday afternoon.
SCA, according to its website, is an "international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th Century Europe," and Saturday wasn't the first occasion participants in the regional chapter's annual gathering have brought tributes to the local chapter of Toys for Tots.
Cole County's Toys for Tots coordinator Harold Faughn said the partnership has been going on for decades, and he presented Calontir's king, His Majesty Damien — also known in the modern era as Adam Hoge, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa — with a framed Coordinator's Award for the Society of Creative Anachronism.
"Many needy children this Christmas season will be so gracious to receive the new, unwrapped toys the Society for Creative Anachronism has donated. On behalf of the United States Marines Corps Reserves, Toys for Tots, thank you, and may God bless your organization," Faughn read aloud off the award's inscription.
"This kingdom and this group of people have dedicated their lives so long as I've known to this cause," His Majesty Damien said.
Saturday's event steward Baron Sir Robert Brockman — Phil Wright, of Wardsville — said approximately 450 people attended with events including medieval-style rattan and rapier fighting.
Participants were asked to bring at least one toy to enter, but Baron Brockman said some people brought a lot more — 304 toys from one knight from Columbia alone.
The people and toys came from all over Calontir's territories that cover Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and northwest Arkansas. Brockman added "Calontir" is Old Anglo-Saxon for "Heartland." Jefferson City is part of the kingdom's "Shire of Wyvern Cliffe."
The effort collected at least 2,371 toys, Brockman said — 700-800 more than last year.
He said people look forward to helping children in need "make their holidays a little brighter."
The toys — all stacked up on tables and in boxes on the stage-end of the school's cafeteria — included just about everything imaginable: Legos, Nerf guns, stuffed animals, art supplies, action figures, board games, and toys for infants and younger children.
Faughn estimated at least 40 standard Toys for Tots boxes' worth of toys had been collected at the event, which will more than replace the 12 such boxes stolen from the Central Missouri chapter of Toys for Tots in Callaway County last month.
The two chapters are distinct; Melissa Barnes is the coordinator for the Central Missouri chapter, which primarily serves eight counties, including Callaway.
Cole County's chapter primarily serves children in Moniteau, Howard and surrounding counties. Faughn said in February that last year, the Cole County chapter helped 2,567 children — 1,330 in Cole County alone.
The Central Missouri chapter distributes gifts to more than 6,000 children annually.
Though they may be different organizations, Barnes said there is some overlap; if one chapter runs short of toys, other chapters can help if they have surpluses, given they all ultimately have the same purpose.
Last week, she said people have been very generous in helping replace the stolen toys, and Faughn added Saturday that donations at Thomas Jefferson would also make a dent in the loss.
Fulton's Police Chief Steve Myers also said last week that the department is still working on the theft case and following up on leads, though they don't have anything solid to go on and have yet to make any arrests. The police department can be reached at 573-592-3100.
Faughn said 100 percent of donations to Toys for Tots go directly to supplying children in need with two toys each plus stocking stuffers for Christmas, meaning the toys collected at SCA's event Saturday will make Christmas gifts possible for approximately 1,200 children.
He said 153 people have been served so far, but it's just the beginning of the organization's busiest season.
He said people can still sign up to receive toys for their children or let the organization know of other children in need through Dec. 15. Eligibility is based on state and federal social services' standards for poverty, and he added no one will be turned down so long as they qualify.
He encouraged people to contact Woodcrest Chapel at Capital Mall; Woodcrest is the main distribution center and can be reached at 573-634-4285.
About 40 Naval Sea Cadets from the Thomas Jefferson Division, ages 10-17 years old, helped load boxes of toys onto a waiting truck Saturday under the command of Regina Kilmer.
Faughn said any unused surplus of toys after the holiday season will be saved for next year.