Over 170 needy families have signed up for this year's Share Your Christmas program. The gift-giving effort traditionally benefits around 400 Barry County children.
"First and foremost, Share Your Christmas benefits the kids who receive the gifts," said Gail Reed, Barry County OACAC Neighborhood Center director, "but the program benefits the parents also. It can be hard for parents to be able to buy Christmas parents for their kids.
"Right now, so many families are worried about putting gas in their cars so they can get back and forth to work or paying their utilities," said Reed. "Share Your Christmas alleviates some of the stress while giving parents a chance to have Christmas presents under the tree for their children."
Neighborhood Center staff members have distributed Christmas ornaments to area businesses. Individuals and families can help with Share Your Christmas by purchasing gift items listed on the ornaments or making other donations to the effort.
"Any kind of toy will benefit Share Your Christmas," said Reed. "We provide toys for children who are between the ages of birth and 12 years. Children who are 13 or older will receive gift vouchers.
"We are also accepting donations of pajamas, socks and underwear this year," said Reed. "Those are things a lot of the parents have asked for this year."
When Share Your Christmas elves pack toys for children, they generally ensure that each child receives a big toy, stocking stuffers and a board game or other item to share with their family. The effort also often provides clothing items for families.
Groups, businesses and organizations can adopt entire families that have signed up for the Share Your Christmas program. Adopting organizations will be responsible for purchasing Christmas gifts for all of the children in the family.
Gifts purchased for the Share Your Christmas effort should be left unwrapped. Items can be dropped off at the Neighborhood Center, which is located at 700 E. Highway 248 in Cassville, through Dec. 14.
For more information, call the Neighborhood Center at 847-2140.