"Things may be hard right now, but we saw no difference in the amount of donations people made this year," said Gail Reed, Barry County OACAC director. "Our toy donations were wonderful this year. It is always amazing to see how much people in our community give."
On Dec. 17, Share Your Christmas volunteers collected hundreds of toys from area businesses and collection sites. The toys were sorted and packed at the Cassville United Methodist Church last Thursday morning.
On Friday, parents had the opportunity to pick up sacks of toys, which contained large and small gifts and stocking stuffers for each child in the family. Many of the toy bags also contained a game, football, basketball, soccer ball or other sports item for family members to enjoy together.
"This program is important in a lot of ways," said Reed. "It is so good to know that children who might not have had any Christmas presents are going to have a good Christmas because of the generosity of the community.
"It always amazes me to see all the volunteers working together to make this happen each year," said Reed. "It is like a puzzle. Each person does their piece to make the program work."
In addition to receiving several Christmas gifts, Share Your Christmas provided kids with new clothing. Children under the age of 13 received one new outfit. The program also provided blankets and other baby items for infants.
Parents received vouchers for children between the ages of 13 and 18 who still attend school. Vouchers, which are redeemable at several local businesses, allow parents to shop for older kids who ask for specific gifts.
"I hope that all of the businesses, organizations and individuals who donated or volunteered their time realize how much the Share Your Christmas Committee appreciates what they do," said Reed. "I also hope they realize how much their time and donations mean to the children who have presents to open on Christmas morning. This makes a difference in the whole family's lives."
Reed acknowledged the generosity of the Cassville First Baptist Church, the Cassville United Methodist Church and the Tau Etta Sorority. She also issued a thank you to Herrin Animal Hospital for its annual toy drive, the Family Support Division for distributing the Christmas items and Cassville High School, which collects funds for the program through Mr. and Miss Merry Christmas.
"We really appreciate all of the businesses that put ornaments on their trees for Share Your Christmas," said Reed. "We also have so many volunteers who do so much for the program."
Many local individuals and organizations assist with the program by adopting complete families. Around 40 families were adopted this year.
"We have so many anonymous donations," said Reed. "We have people who bring in car loads of toys, and we have others who bring cash donations. It is always amazing."
The program would not be possible without Share Your Christmas Committee members Bobbie Tucker, Bertie Bailey, Sylvia Sturgeon, Cheri Shumaker and Trish McCracken and the Barry County OACAC Neighborhood Center staff, who oversee the gift collection, packing and distribution process.
Share Your Christmas accepts donations throughout the year. Individuals interested in supporting the program should call Reed at 847-2140.