Toy drive sign-ups kick off Thursday
by Marie Nesmith
Oct 23, 2013 | 1558 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With a handful of toy drive organizations operating in Bartow County, the groundwork already is being laid for successful campaigns this year. Even though Halloween still is more than a week away, toy drive representatives already have their sights set on Christmas, with enrollment beginning this week.

SALVATION ARMY

On Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon, The Salvation Army’s Cartersville Corps will register applicants for either its Angel Tree Program or the Bartow County Toys for Tots effort.

“Since its inception in 1979, The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program has helped to brighten the lives and holidays of thousands of children and families,” said Salvation Army Lt. Michelle Wilson. “The families that register for our programs are in need due to an emergency financial hardship, unemployment or underemployment. We find that many of our applicants each year are first time recipients and do not have any other option for providing for their children for Christmas. Many families find themselves making hard choices each month about what bills to pay and how to put food on the table for their families, and when the holidays roll around, the stress of not having enough to make ends meet multiplies.

“As the Christmas holiday draws nearer, the fact remains that this time of year can be horribly depressing for those facing lost jobs, foreclosure and the light in their children’s eyes as they talk about what Santa might bring. With little cash on hand, the pressure to provide even a passable holiday season for their kids is tough for many. The Salvation Army Angel Tree in Cartersville depends on hundreds of donors, volunteers and organizations that help ensure that each ‘angel’ gets the Christmas that brings smiles and joy for the whole family.”

For the enrollment process, parents and legal guardians of children, 12 and younger, will need to bring a photo ID, proof of need; address verification; and two forms of ID for each parent/guardian and child, such as a birth certificate or Social Security card, to The Salvation Army’s office at 16 Felton Place.

With its Angel Tree Program around the corner, The Salvation Army currently is recruiting groups to feature artificial Christmas trees. Once the trees are installed, they will be adorned with paper ornaments containing a child’s first name and age, clothing size and suggested gifts. After selecting the ornament, the anonymous donor will deliver the contributions, unwrapped, by Dec. 13 to the tree location or The Salvation Army.

“In 2012, we assisted 1,074 people by providing 6,611 new toys and clothing items to needy children in our community through the Angel Tree Program,” Wilson said. “We expect with that the need will be even greater this Christmas due to cuts to the food stamp program and based on the increase we have seen in our regular social services this past year.”

For more information about enrolling in the toy drive offerings or participating in the Angel Tree Program, call 770-386-6256.

BARTOW COUNTY TOYS FOR TOTS

In addition to this week’s enrollment, the Bartow County Toys for Tots will hold an additional sign-up in October for its toy drive. On Oct. 29, potential recipients will be able to register at Georgia Bone & Joint Surgeons, 15 Medical Drive in Cartersville, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Assisting more than 4,500 children in 2012, Bartow County Toys for Tots expects to serve about 6,000 youth this year.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of people already signing up online for toys this year — probably 30 to 60 days sooner than we normally have,” said Richard Goodson with the local Toys for Tots campaign. “... [I think this is due to] the economy, the tornado in Adairsville. ... This year, [there] seems to be a greater need.”

Along with seeking volunteers for their toy drive, Toys for Tots organizers also are recruiting businesses to serve as public collection sites. All of the containers will be marked “Bartow County,” with Goodson and Nancy Miller’s names and phone numbers. Once collected, three toys and a stocking for each child — newborn to 12 — will be dispersed to pre-qualified families Dec. 21 at Georgia Bone & Joint Surgeons.

For more information about the Toys for Tots program, visit its Facebook page or www.toysfortots.org or call Goodson at 404-593-3547 or Miller at 404-313-7503. While this operation supports the Adairsville community’s Toys for Tots campaign, they are different offerings.

BARTOW CHRISTMAS

Formed in the 1990s, Bartow Christmas Coalition assists thousands of people annually with nonperishable food items and toys. Each year, the campaign typically records a 10 percent increase in recipients.

“This year, we haven’t really seen an overwhelming amount of people [needing assistance] yet,” said Hailey Galloway, vice president for Bartow Christmas Coalition. “But within the next few weeks, we expect to get really busy [as far as answering] phone calls and questions. ... I know that some of our schools have just sent out the paperwork. So we’re kind of in [limbo] with how many people are going to be attending the screening this year.”

Bartow Christmas campaign’s recipient screening will be held Nov. 8 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Church at Liberty Square, 2001 Liberty Square Drive in Cartersville. Applicants must provide a driver’s license or picture ID of the head of household; Social Security card for each family member or tax return with Social Security numbers; proof of household income; and a document, such as a utility bill, to verify street address — no P.O. boxes accepted.

“Every child deserves a good Christmas,” Galloway said. “Before I helped here, I had helped with a lot of other Christmas programs around Christmastime but it was usually just donating or buying presents for kids. But actually helping this happen for so many families and raising the money and helping to coordinate Bartow Christmas has been fabulous. ... The holidays mean so much. There’s nothing like the magic of Christmas as a child.”

If donations allow, each qualified family will receive nonperishable food items, a gift card and two toys for each child, newborn to 14. A gift card and food items also will be presented to each senior adult, 62 and older, during the distribution — Dec. 9 to 13 at the organization’s Toy Store on Nelson Street in Cartersville.

The public can assist Bartow Christmas’ efforts by volunteering, organizing fundraisers, contributing financially or bringing items to the nonprofit’s Toy Store prior to the distribution. Supporters also are encouraged to attend the Bartow Christmas Bash Nov. 9 from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Hilton Garden Inn, 24 Liberty Drive in Cartersville. The benefit will feature food, dancing and an auction.

For more information about the Bartow Christmas Coalition, call 770-386-2252, 770-386-3399 or visit its Facebook page.

ADAIRSVILLE’S TOYS FOR TOTS

Organized by Adairsville Church of God Rev. Ken Coomer in the mid-2000s, the Adairsville Toys for Tots program will conduct sign-ups in November.

For their children — newborn to 12 — to receive assistance, parents or legal guardians need to call the Adairsville Church of God at 770-773-3264 on Nov. 16 from 9 a.m. to noon or Nov. 18 to 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If approved, applicants must bring the following items with them to the toy distribution in December — proof of Bartow County residence and that children attend school in Adairsville; picture ID; and a document regarding their children, such as a birth certificate or Social Security card.