December 14, 2011 | by Lisa Mattson

John Jordan added a festive twist to our annual Toys for Tots donations drive this year by transforming a retired grape gondola into a Christmas sleigh.

Director of Operations Tim Spence has kept a few old gondolas in a shed for many years; these five-ton trailers were used to transport grapes from our vineyards to the winery in the 1980s. Tim’s staff painted and decorated the gondola, then a challenge was issued to all employees to help fill the sleigh with toys by the morning of December 12. John kicked things off by filling one end of the sleigh with toys worth $3,000.

Vineyard Manager Dana Grande created a friendly competition between departments for who could collect the most toys, and employees flocked to the sleigh with bikes, balls, board games and puzzles. The over-flowing gondola sleigh rolled into downtown Healdsburg just before noon on Monday, stopping at the Healdsburg Fire Department to meet with Toys for Tots officials and transfer all donations to the organization.

Nearly 1,000 pounds of toys were collected by Jordan employees and Jordan Estate Rewards members.

“It’s incumbent upon local businesses to take up the challenge of improving our community and improving the lives of our more vulnerable fellow citizens,” John said. ”Now we have a goal we can strive to exceed. And we have a few more old gondolas ready to start a second career as Santa’s sleighs next year.”

It brings a whole new meaning to the term, “late harvest,” and we couldn’t be more proud.

Healdsburg Patch published a news story and photo gallery about our Toys for Tots gondola project.

Watch the gondola’s transformation in our Flickr slideshow:
Toys for Tots donations drive