Wayne Henderson, affectionately dubbed Garbage Truck Santa, hops into his truck at Shipyards Park in Whitehorse on Dec. 20, 2018. After the transmission died in his truck earlier this year, the community rallied to get it fixed and get him back on the road in time for this Christmas season. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Garbage Truck Santa gets a transmission for Christmas

Community rallies to get Santa on the road

Whitehorse has come through to make a Christmas wish come true for Santa himself.

Wayne Henderson, who’s perhaps best known around Whitehorse as Garbage Truck Santa, said Oct. 23 the support of the community means his garbage truck will have a new transmission and be on the road this December visiting schools, daycares and continuing care facilities.

“It’s going to happen,” an obviously-pleased Henderson said. “I’m overwhelmed.”

A GoFundMe campaign that started Oct. 3 to raise the approximately $11,000 that was needed to buy a new transmission and the mechanical work to install it has been closed down after raising more than $5,000. Some of those donations came in from as far away as Alberta and California.

Along with the donations made online, word of the campaign spread quickly with many individuals, organizations and businesses contacting him directly to help out, Henderson said.

Pelly Construction purchased the transmission with Inland Kenworth providing a significant discount on the labour, which is now underway.

Action Towing has provided help in getting the truck from Mercer’s Contracting, which provided space for it until the work could be done and will tow it up to Yukon College after the transmission is in.

There, students — perhaps some who recall Garbage Truck Santa’s visits to their schools when they were young — and instructors will work to put on new tires (provided by Inland Kenworth) and do brake work along with a full inspection to get the truck on the road safely.

Along with that, Home Hardware has been collecting donations at its tills and will be presenting Henderson with a cheque to add to the thousands of dollars that have come in.

The truck itself was gifted to Henderson. As he told the News when the campaign started, it’s the same truck Takhini Trailer Court has lent him annually in recent years for his one-week trek as Garbage Truck Santa.

When the transmission in it failed, the manager at the trailer court decided it was time for the trailer court to get a new garbage truck and called Henderson to see if he wanted it, letting him know it would need the new transmission.

Having a truck of his own means he and his crew of elves will no longer have to rush to duct tape the decorations and lights on just ahead of getting on the road and then rush to take them off when his work as Santa is over to get the truck back to the trailer park for its usual duties of collecting garbage.

Instead there’s the possibility of permanently having the lights on (though Henderson said that won’t happen in time for this year’s travels around Whitehorse) and being part of community events like the annual parade outside of his one-week visit to schools, daycares and continuing care facilities.

Henderson happily took the truck and then found out the costs and work involved in getting a new transmission. That’s when his daughter-in-law started the GoFundMe campaign. In next to no time, donations were coming in and the transmission was purchased.

“It’s all coming together,” he said.

Henderson said there is likely to be money from those donations left over after the transmission in and other work is done. Any money left over will remain in the Garbage Truck Santa bank account that’s been opened at RBC and used for ongoing maintenance costs on the truck and fuel.

As has become tradition, numerous businesses have also committed to helping out when Garbage Truck Santa gets set to hit the road in December.

The decorating will happen at Whitehorse Motors with numerous stores set to provide things like Christmas lights, gloves for Santa, and candy canes that will be handed out to the kids.

Henderson said he continues to be grateful for the support.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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