24 area businesses gather toys for children
291 children to receive gift this year through OACAC toy drive
’Tis the season for giving, and the Barry County Neighborhood Center, along with 24 local businesses aim to provide for 291 children this Christmas through Share Your Christmas.
Dr. Brent Herrin, owner of Herrin Animal Hospital, said this is the 19th year his business has been a part of the Center’s toy drive.
“We collect the toys and [the Center, which is part of the Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation] distributes them,” Herrin said. “We usually get a pick up bed full or so every year.”
Kerrin said there is a need for all ages, sizes and shapes. Anything from bicycles to toddler toys and dolls get donated through the clinic.
“This is something the staff and I look forward to every year,” Herrin said. “We feel like we are giving back to the community that gives to us all year, and it warms our hearts.”
According to Herrin, primarily the clients donate, but the animal hospital also holds a Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, where they get a fair amount of items from chamber members.
“We enjoy seeing the toys go off, and we are always impressed with our clients and friends with how much they give,” Herrin said. “The ladies that distribute the toys have wish lists that they try to fill if they can.”
Herrin said the toys need to be unwrapped and new in the package, and they can be dropped off at the Herrin Animal Hospital by Dec. 15.
“You can spend a couple of dollars on a toy that will make a child very happy,” Herrin said. “It is always a good thing to help children in need, and we enjoy being a part of that.”
Gail Reed, Barry County Neighborhood Center supervisor, said Share Your Christmas has been going on since before she started 25 years ago.
“We are going to pack the toys on Dec. 17,” Reed said. “We will distribute them on Dec. 18, but we will be accepting donations until Dec. 17.”
Reed said a lot of times, people bring socks, scarves, hats and things like that, but this drive is really for toys.
“For each child, the parent gets a voucher to get them clothes as well,” Reed said. “Also, for each child 13-18 years old, the parents receive a voucher so the parents can buy for them.”
According to Reed, the money raised by Mr. and Miss Merry Christmas at Cassville schools and other donations goes toward Share Your Christmas vouchers.
“This year, we have 110 families and 291 children that we are helping,” Reed said. “There are 24 businesses that participate in gathering the donations.
“They aren’t all here in Cassville though. Towns and schools all over the county help.”
Reed said it starts when a parent fills out an application that is available at the neighborhood center for two weeks before Thanksgiving.
“Then, we give the parents a paper that has a wish list on it for what the children would like, and we try to go by that,” Reed said. “Finally, we put those wish lists on ornaments and give them to different businesses in the community.
“We send out like a thousand ornaments.”
Reed said the organization understands that big, expensive gifts aren’t really possible, and the parents know that as well.
“Any gift is welcome, not just gift pointed out on the wish list,” Reed said. “We try to be as fair as possible when giving those gifts out.”
Volunteers meet at the United Methodist Church on Dec. 17 at 10 a.m. to wrap the gifts, and they continue until everything is wrapped.”
On Dec. 18, the families start at the First Baptist Church in the fellowship hall where they receive the vouchers. Also, the First Baptist Church puts together a hygiene basket for each family.
Then the families go over to the United Methodist Church for the gifts.
“Every year, we do this and everyone has a job,” Reed said. “I love this time of year and this program, and it makes me so proud of this community that we come together so that 291 children this year have a good Christmas.”
Anyone who is interested in volunteering to wrap gifts can call 417-847-5888.