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Barrie’s Secret Santa celebrates Christmas in July

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By day, he’s a mild-mannered businessman, but by night, okay, he’s a father of three and a husband.

But after that he is secretly a Santa Claus.

Jamie Stratton estimates he has about 700 to 800 toys in his South Barrie garage.

It’s not just a hobby; it’s his passion to collect toys for children of all ages and distribute them for free to those in need.

Even in July.

“You can feel the Christmas cheer by opening a present any time of the year,” Stratton said.

Stratton grew up with a Christmas event in his parents’ trailer every summer.

After moving to Barrie two years ago, Stratton wanted to help out after the tornado, so he played Santa Claus for the Prince William-area Santa Claus Parade last year.

“I’m doing everything I can to help, really,” he said.

Each toy in the garage is gift wrapped – he loves to wrap – and the age ranges and genders are taped to the top of each package.

To encourage visitors to visit his home at 4 Windsor Crescent in the Christmas spirit, Stratton has installed lights, inflatables and a 40ft Christmas tree.

“I’ll leave them (the toys) from Saturday morning and all weekend, including the Monday long weekend – it will be the toys and some free decorations I have. I can have a bin for the donations if anyone wants to drop some off,” he said.

Stratton said he shopped at online auctions for toys in bulk and often received open toys at his workplace.

“It’s a real chore,” he said, “but toys are getting harder and harder to justify on a budget.

“Knowing that someone is on the other end of the line, you can get a sense of your childhood, and then you think, ‘I made that kid’s day.'”