"It was another successful year," said Gail Reed, Barry County OACAC director. "Everything went really well. We had a lot of good volunteers, and I think we had more toys this year. We got so much community support. It was wonderful."
On Dec. 16, Share Your Christmas volunteers collected hundreds of toys from area businesses and collection sites. Toys were sorted and packed at the Cassville United Methodist Church last Thursday morning.
Area parents were invited to pick up sacks of toys, which contained large and small gifts and stocking stuffers for each child and a game or sports item for each family, at the Cassville First Baptist Church on Friday.
"In years past, sometimes families aren't able to come pick up their gifts, and we spend time locating the families to make sure the children receive their gifts," said Reed. "This year, we only had two families that were unable to pick up their gifts."
In addition to receiving several Christmas gifts, Share Your Christmas provided kids with new clothing. Blankets and other baby items were distributed to families with infants.
Parents received vouchers for children between the ages of 13 and 18 who still attend school. Vouchers, which are redeemable at several area businesses, allow parents to shop for older kids who ask for specific gifts.
"The Cassville United Methodist Church and the Cassville First Baptist Church always play a big part in Share Your Christmas," said Reed. "This year, the Baptist church gave hygiene baskets to each family. These were laundry baskets full of household items."
Reed also acknowledged Herrin Animal Hospital, which once again hosted its annual toy drive benefiting the Share Your Christmas effort. Dozens of toys were collected by the local veterinary clinic this year.
"Dr. Herrin's toy drive is so great," said Reed. "We receive so many wonderful donations through that each year.
"I think Share Your Christmas was bigger this year than it has been in the past," said Reed. "We were concerned going into this year's effort that we might not have as many donations and that we had more people sign-up for the program, but the donations came through, and everybody came together to support the program."
Several local individuals and organizations also assisted with Share Your Christmas by adopting complete families. This year, nearly two dozen families adopted by community members received gifts, clothing and household items.
"It is so great to see the community pull together for Share Your Christmas each year," said Reed. "It is wonderful to know that our community cares about helping area kids in need. We appreciate all the help and all the volunteers."
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.