If you thought tattoos might put you on the “naughty” list, Sacred Heart is prepared to change your mind this Christmas season.

Matt Holt is a tattoo artist and owner of Sacred Heart Studios (821 N Broadway Ave., Rochester). This year, Holt organized a "Toys for Tats” drive to make the holidays a bit more festive.

Toys for Tats is a toy drive that lets tattoo clients bring in a new, packaged item with receipt to their appointment up until Christmas. Then the tattoo artists will deduct the cost of that toy from the expense of the tattoo art.

One of the new tattoo artists at the shop, Josh Brown, heard about the Toys for Tats concept being used at other shops and suggested it might work at Sacred Heart Studios.

“We stole it,” Holt said. “We’re hoping to make it an annual toy drive.”

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Although the drive is a way for customers to secure discounts, he said that’s not the reason he embraced it.

“It’s a way for us to work together to help make 2020 suck less for some kids,” he said. “Everyone at Sacred Heart Studios was excited to participate. … We are happy to have an opportunity to help out.”

The Toys for Tats project is also a tribute to Holt’s aunt Pam German, who passed away around Thanksgiving after a long battle with cancer earlier this year.

“She had asked that memorial donations be made to Toys for Tots,” he said. “The toys will be donated to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots as a memorial.”

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Like many other local businesses, the pandemic has dealt Sacred Heart Studios a significant blow.

Now the shop is open for business again and following new health precautions.

“As we always have, we are taking health department regulations very seriously,” Holt said.

The shop limits the number of guests in the building at any time, only accepts appointments (no walk-ins), asks every customer who enters to use hand sanitizer, requires all staff and clients to wear masks while inside the building, and disinfects surfaces regularly.

If you want to participate in Toys for Tats, text the shop at 507-271-4954 with your name and the artists you are interested in. Check out the Sacred heart Studios artist portfolios at www.sacredheartstudiosmn.com.

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More toy drives

  • See a drive-in movie at The Bar n’ Grill in Racine and donate a toy for admission at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19. Visit the Facebook event for more information.

  • Donate new or gently used unwrapped items for ages 0-18 at Café Steam, Little Thistle Brewing Company and Old Abe Coffee Co. until Dec. 23 for a locally organized toy drive.
  • Chabad Lubavitch of Southern Minnesota and Southern Minnesota Judaism Through the Arts are collecting toys for the Ronald McDonald House. For more information, visit www.chabadrochestermn.com.
  • Somos Latinos, a Mayo Employee Resource Group with strong cultural ties to Latin America and Hispanic culture, is gathering presents, essential garments, and gift cards to benefit 40 local families in need identified by Red de Ayuda. Donate through the end of the year at https://bit.ly/Somos-walmart or https://bit.ly/Somos-Amazon. Email medinainojosa.jose@mayo.edu for more information.
  • The Southeast Minnesota Toys for Tots program distributed 18,936 toys to 7,804 children in 2019. To donate, go to https://rochester-mn.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites.
  • To donate through the local Christmas Anonymous Program, go to https://christmasanonymous.org/donating.
  • The Salvation Army and Walmart collaborate on the Angel Tree Program, which has served more than 2.6 million children in need. For more information, visit www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/walmart-angel-tree.
  • Canvas & Chardonnay is collecting funds to set up an arts and crafts shelf at The Landing MN. Donations can be made to Community Art Outreach at www.canvasandchardonnay.com/product/art-heads-donation/57.