OGDEN -- Blitzen and Snowflake butted antlers Wednesday, a playful attempt at performing reindeer games for spectators gathered around the animals' pen just outside Weber State University's Shepherd Union Building.
Santa was busy inside, in the lower floor of WSU's main campus bookstore. Eager children lined up for their turn on his lap.
And right next to Santa was a life-sized -- if not airworthy -- sleigh, overflowing with boxes of tissues, bundles of paper towels, bottles of shampoo and bags of diapers and hygiene supplies.
Santa's haul was destined for Catholic Community Services, which helps fill the basic needs of about 2,000 low-income families each month.
"It was about 1,400 (families) this time last year," said Karina Martin, food and volunteer coordinator at the charity. "That's a pretty big jump."
This is the third year the bookstore has hosted the single-day Fill the Sleigh drive. In 2009, it collected 650 pounds of donated goods; in 2010, it collected 520 pounds.
Although 2011 totals won't be known until several days from now, Martin said she was amazed to see the sled so full just two hours into the six-hour event.
"I'm blown away by how much people are donating," she said.
Amber Robson, of campus bookstores, came up with the fundraiser idea and has organized the event ever since.
"In 2009, I was really excited about the holidays, which are a great time to get involved," Robson said. "A small holiday gathering quickly turned into a big charity event -- and donations seem to be increasing this year."
Each year, the target agency has made specific requests for needed items. This year's focus was hygiene and paper products, which most people take for granted but are hard to do without, Martin said.
About 1,000 people participated in each of the first two years, Robson said, donating goods and bringing their children to see Santa and two of his reindeer. School classes have dropped by each year, as have day care groups.
Amber Fenn, 7, of Harrisville, gave the reindeer high marks Wednesday.
"I've seen elk, but these are smaller and cuter," she said as she looked into the animals' fenced enclosure. "They have cuter fur."
Amber was more concerned about how Santa would react to her request for a dog, specifically a rescued malamute like one she saw earlier this year.
"I don't know if one is going to be available in time," Amber said, "so I have a few other ideas."
Rylan Hunt, of West Haven, waiting in line to confer with Santa about a desired motor scooter, also gave the reindeer a good review.
"They were awesome," the 7-year-old said as brother Caden, 8, bounced with excitement.
"I thought they would be taller, but I liked that they were tough."
This year, Robson focused on thinking up a way to get Weber State students to pause during finals week and to participate in the donation drive in their own way.
For a donation of a "most-needed" item, students could get a waiver that would allow them to avoid paying for one parking ticket with a fee of $30 or less.
At least 20 ticket vouchers were awarded at the Ogden bookstore in the first two hours of the drive. The deal was available at the WSU Davis campus in Layton as well.
"The exciting thing is, most of the students are donating more than one item for the vouchers," Robson said.
"Some of them are bringing bags of stuff that I am sure are worth more than $30. They're really getting into the giving spirit."
Anyone who missed the event but wants to donate nonclothing items to Catholic Community Services can call 801-394-5944 or drop by the charity's office at 2504 F St., Ogden, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
To receive goods from the charity, applicants need to be living on a budget of 150 percent of poverty level or less. The charity serves people in Weber and surrounding counties.