This Christmas, area residents have the opportunity to brighten the holiday season for approximately 350 children and 151 families living in the Cassville area through the 2008 Share Your Christmas (SYC) campaign.
Individuals, organizations or businesses can get involved in a variety of ways through the donation of toys, money or time.
Families can be adopted by groups or individuals. Adoption involves providing presents for each member of one family. Currently, there are 125 families left to adopt.
In addition, Share Your Christmas provides presents to individual children from birth through 12 years of age. Children, age 13 to 18, who still live at home, receive vouchers and their parents can use those vouchers to purchase clothes or other gifts for them. Share Your Christmas also provides clothing for the younger-aged children.
Different businesses in town have trees that are decorated with paper ornaments. Individuals can pick up one of these ornaments, which include the age of the child and whether or not it is a boy or girl. That person then brings back an age-appropriate unwrapped gift for that child to the business.
General toy donations and monetary contributions are also accepted at the OACAC Barry County Neighborhood Center, newly located on Highway 248 in Cassville. Checks, made out to Share Your Christmas, can also be mailed to the Center at 700 E. Highway 248, Cassville, MO 65625.
Toy collections will end on Dec. 17. Toys are sorted and packed on Dec. 18 with families scheduled to pick up their items on Dec. 19.
"For so many families these toys are what their families will get for Christmas," said Gail Reed, director of the Neighborhood Center. "So many of our families live from paycheck to paycheck and there's no extra. If it weren't for Share Your Christmas, they would have no Christmas."
One single mother who signed up for assistance through the Share Your Christmas program for the first time this year said she was planning to use food stamps to buy her children candy for Christmas.
"Our job is to make sure we've got plenty of Christmas for the children who wouldn't have anything at all," said Reed. "That's what Share Your Christmas is all about."
Even though the economy is tough this Christmas, Reed said she's actually seeing an increase in the number of people who are contacting her about getting involved in Share Your Christmas.
"It's really a great thing," said Reed.
For more information, call the Barry County Neighborhood Center at 847-2140.