Toy drives seek community assistance
by Marie Nesmith
Dec 05, 2013 | 1381 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As Christmas draws near, numerous organizations are busy trying to fill the wish lists of thousands of children. While some of the efforts vary in scope, they are unified in their focus to make sure each child feels special and loved on Christmas morning.

Adairsville’s Toys for Tots

Coordinated by Adairsville Church of God Rev. Ken Coomer in the mid-2000s, the Adairsville Toys for Tots program is urging the public to donate toys at collection sites around the city.

“We are anticipating 500 children,” said Suzanne Phillips, director of the Adairsville Toys for Tots campaign. “Absolutely, [there is a greater need this year] ... because we had that massive tornado [that] ... not only [took out] houses, it took out some businesses that were major employers.”

On Dec. 14, qualified families will be able to select three toys and five stocking stuffers for each child, newborn to 12.

“[The toy distribution] is a very overwhelming and heartwarming experience for everybody that works because we not only have people from our church congregation but we have people from businesses in the community and people who are from other churches in the community that come and help,” Phillips said. “Just seeing the people come in and knowing that they get to choose an item for their baby, just like if they went to Wal-Mart and picked it out themselves — it’s something the parents get to choose personally and it’s specifically for their child, it’s not a generic toy — ... it is very overwhelming, heartwarming and humble to see that.”

For more information, call the Adairsville Church of God at 770-773-3264.

Bartow Christmas Coalition

Currently accepting donations at its Toy Store, Bartow Christmas Coalition also is gearing up for its last sign-up session.

“Right now we have 420 families, but we’re expecting more because we have a second sign-up date this Friday,” said Beverly Shaw, coordinator for the Toy Store located at 222 Nelson St. in the old Belk shopping center. “[We are holding it] because the numbers were down.

“We’re normally around 850 to 900 families. ... We’re not sure if the need is still there or if they missed the sign-up date or there are other agencies that are helping. We’re just not sure.”

On Friday, the last chance for Bartow residents to enroll in the Bartow Christmas campaign will be conducted from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Toy Store. 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.

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 next week’s distribution.

The public can support Bartow Christmas’ efforts by contributing financially or bringing items to the nonprofit’s Toy Store through Dec. 12, each Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Further details about the Bartow Christmas Coalition can be obtained by calling 770-386-3399 or visiting its Facebook page.

Bartow County DFCS

Through the Silent Santa program, Bartow County Department of Family & Children Services employees are finding sponsors for about 180 children in state custody.

“Most of our foster kids have been covered ... but we have families that have custody of their kids but missed the other deadlines and are still definitely in need of some assistance,” Bartow County DFCS Director Lynn Green said, adding sponsors still are being sought for about 45 foster care children and between 12 to 15 families. “... Most of the families that are coming to our attention asking for assistance, they don’t have any other options. They don’t have grandparents to rely on or extended family members that can maybe help them. So really it could come down to whether or not this child is going to have a Christmas at all.”

Community sponsors who participate in the Silent Santa program receive a wish list that includes information like the child’s first name, age, gender, favorite color, clothing sizes and desired toys. While individuals are not required to purchase every item the child requests, they are encouraged to select the gifts with care, as if they are shopping for their own child.

Once purchased, gifts should be returned to DFCS — 47 Brook Drive in Cartersville — unwrapped by Dec. 16.

More details about the Silent Santa program can be acquired by contacting LeeAnn Henson at 770-387-3736 or lahenson@dhr.state.ga.us.

Bartow County Toys for Tots

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

“We’re expecting to [assist] about 6,000 children, about 2,000 more than we did last year because of the tornado and the stuff up in Adairsville,” said Richard Goodson, local community organizer for Toys for Tots. “I have a campaign ... [at] Adairsville Church of God ... but they can only take so much, so we’re having to take the rest of what they can’t [fill].

“The need is just so much greater, because I guess the tornado in Adairsville and the jobs, the companies that didn’t come back. ... The times for people right now are hard to manage.”

The community can deliver toys to containers at area organizations marked “Bartow County,” with Goodson and Nancy Miller’s names and phone numbers. Toys are especially needed for children ages 7 to 12. 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, 15 Medical Drive in Cartersville.

In addition to donating items, the public also can assist the Toys for Tots’ efforts by purchasing a $5 ticket to win a 2013 Dodge car that will be raffled off Dec. 14. Tickets are available at various locations, such as Bank of the Ozarks and the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce.

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.

Meritan Stepping Stones

To support Meritan Stepping Stones’ efforts to assist 60 foster care children, area residents can select an ornament adorning the Christmas tree at Swheat Market Deli, 5 E. Main St. in Cartersville. Along with the children’s’ first names, the ornaments contain their ages and desired presents.

“Every child is in foster care and we are a specialized foster care nonprofit private organization,” said Sharal Ozim, program director for Meritan. “So we accept children that DFCS may not have the resources to accept because they need a little bit higher care. They possibly need a little bit more attention.

“The parents may need specialized training to care for their needs, which are [emotional], medical or [behavioral]. ... So their level of care is a little bit higher and their watchful oversight is needed a little bit more. Of course, they come from neglected environments, abused environments and just a lack of supervision. So it’s quite a gamut of care that the children may need, extra support from foster parents.”

Once purchased, the gifts — totaling $50 to $75 — need to be delivered to Meritan Stepping Stones, 920-A N. Tennessee St. in Cartersville, by Dec. 13. In addition to donating gifts, area residents also can sponsor a child for Christmas, by making a donation of $10, $25 or $50.

For more information about Meritan Stepping Stones, call 770-387-9003 or visit www.meritan.org.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army’s Cartersville Corps is seeking donors to participate in its Angel Tree Program.

“The true impact of the Great Recession is tough to measure,” said Salvation Army Lt. Michelle Wilson. “Americans have lost money, jobs and homes. Our families and friends have fallen on hard times. Some who had little to begin with now have less and are working harder every day to make it to tomorrow. These same families who are struggling to meet the financial demands of day-to-day life question how they might provide a gift or two for their children on Christmas Day.

“Every child deserves to experience the joy of Christmas morning. And thanks to supporters of The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program, thousands of American children will find this waiting under their Christmas tree this year.”

To contribute, individuals need to select an “Angel” ornament, which contains a child’s first name and age and several suggested gifts. The ornaments are adorning artificial Christmas trees at organizations throughout Bartow County. After selecting the ornament, the anonymous donor will deliver the contributions, unwrapped, by Dec. 13 to the tree location or The Salvation Army.

“The Salvation Army Angel Tree Program in Bartow County will be serving 700 children this year,” Wilson said. “The Angel Tree Program not only provides toys but also clothing to needy children each year. In 2012, we distributed 3,606 toys and 3,005 clothing items to 601 children. The need this year is up by about 20 percent and we are still referring families to Toy for Tots, our partner agency for Christmas assistance each year.

“We have 85 children who still need to be sponsored as well as a need for extra toys and clothing to be donated to take care of our forgotten angels — the children who will need help but the parents may not have signed up and will find themselves in need just a few days before Christmas.”

For more information about participating in the Angel Tree Program, call 770-386-6256.