Bartow Christmas Coalition in 'desperate' need of toy donations
by Marie Nesmith
Dec 03, 2010 | 3101 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Volunteer Brittney Shaw works in the Bartow Christmas Toy Store arranging gifts according to a child’s gender and age. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Volunteer Brittney Shaw works in the Bartow Christmas Toy Store arranging gifts according to a child’s gender and age. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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With its toy distribution starting Monday, the Bartow Christmas Coalition is experiencing a serious shortfall of donations. As with previous campaigns, the nonprofit's president, Melissa Porter, believes -- with the public's help -- they can once again generate enough toys to prevent scaling back their holiday operations.

"I sure do hope so," she said, about the community rallying around their cause in its final days. "I have a strong faith in Bartow County.

"Basically this is some of the kids' ... only gift. It could be the only thing they get for Christmas. So it really means a lot to them because it might be the only thing [under their tree]. We're very desperately in need of toys right now -- desperate. It's been very light with donations."

Bartow Christmas Toy Store Coordinator Beverly Shaw said half of the toys desired for dispersal still need to be collected, with the greatest needs being for infants to 3 years old and ages 8 to 14. In addition to toys, the public also is urged to donate various food items, ranging from cranberry sauce to cake and cornbread mixes.

Due to the Bartow Christmas Coalition's need for toys, the nonprofit is going to accept donations prior to and throughout its distribution period Monday to Thursday. Donors can bring supplies to the organization's Toy Store, 290 Nelson St. in Cartersville, today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and next week -- Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Formed in the early 1990s, the nonprofit assisted 750 families -- 654 boys and 675 girls -- and 143 senior adults with nonperishable food items and toys in 2009. With each annual campaign typically recording about a 10 percent increase in recipients, campaign organizers expect to serve 825 families and 158 seniors this year.

If donations allow, each pre-qualified family is going to receive nonperishable food items, a gift card and two toys for each child, newborn to 14. Gift cards and food items also are being presented to adults, 65 and older.

For Shaw, being involved with the nonprofit's Toy Store provides her the opportunity to witness the community's giving spirit.

"One touching story was during last week. When we were setting up, we had a mother to come in with her three daughters because they were out of school," Shaw said. "She wanted them to see what the Christmas spirit was all about [as far as] giving. They came in and worked about two hours, separating toys and sorting toys and we just appreciated that and [her] teaching her children how to give back.

"[During past distributions] I've seen parents that are very appreciative of the community opening their hearts and giving during this season. A lot of them [were] unemployed at this time and just really [were] at sorts as to what they were going to be able to do for their family [last] year and just wanted to be able to give something to their children. So they are very appreciative. [This year] we're finding that a lot of them are laid off and just don't have work right now. We even have some volunteers that are in here working now that are unemployed also."

For more information about Bartow Christmas, visit www.bartowchristmas.org or call Shaw at 770-386-3399. Even though the store in the Cartersville Plaza shopping center is going to be closed Saturday and Sunday, Shaw will arrange a time on the weekend for people to deliver toys if she receives prior notice.