Struggling families have registered about 300 children for programs.
Toy boxes are out and the trees will go up in stores the day after Thanksgiving. Coordinators of the local Toys for Tots and Angel Tree program remind shoppers that, as always, some families will need help to brighten the holidays for their youngsters. Early in the season, while selection is good and before families become bogged down with activities is a good time to shop for a family that is struggling financially.
Applications for the programs were delivered at local schools to children who qualify for free and reduced price lunches, said Tiffany Ailstock, RSVP director, who manages the Angel Tree program. She reminds that children are enrolled for both programs, so Angel shoppers can be assured that the child is getting a toy as well as clothing. She expects about 300 registrations, similar to last year.
For both programs, new gifts are requested.
"We always get some 'I'm housecleaning and getting rid of junk' items," Georgie Fowler, Toys for Tots coordinator said, mentioning in particular, a coffee cup filled with old candy and bearing a message, "The devil made me do it."
There are outlets for good used toys, such as consignment shops and church nurseries, and many families take advantage of those opportunities to donate toys, or supply the needs of their children.
For Christmas, however, something brand new and in the package is requested — something you would give your own child, Fowler noted.
The American Legion Riders held their annual Toy Run early in the fall, but it fell on a cold day and not many participated, she said. They're still collecting money and toys, and have placed boxes in some local businesses. Pratt High School's National Honor Society put out additional boxes last weekend. All the toys go to the same program, and all are given to Pratt County children.
New, unwrapped toys may be placed in any of the boxes, or monetary donations may be made payable to Toys for Tots and left at The Peoples Bank. The deadline for donating toys is Dec. 15.
The toys program is sponsored by Pansy Rebekah Lodge, in cooperation with the National Honor Society and the American Legion Post.
The Pratt County Retired Senior and Volunteer Program heads up the Angel Tree program, asking shoppers to provide one or more of the clothing items described on the tag. Donors may wrap their gifts, with the Angel tag on the outside, or let RSVP do that task.
Angel shoppers have until the 17th to complete their shopping.
Toys and clothing will be distributed to families on Dec. 19.
Toy suggestions by age group
Newborn - 1 year
Unbreakable toys that rattle or squeak
Washable dolls or animals with embroidered features
Stacking ring cones
Tapes or records with gentle music
1 - 2 years
Push and pull toys
Books with cloth or stiff pasteboard pages
Take-apart toys with large pieces
Nested boxes or cups
Floating tub toys
2 - 3 years
Cars or wagons to push
Simple musical items
Books that rhyme
3 - 4 years
Dolls with simple clothes
Simple board games
4 - 5 years
Simple construction sets
Finger paint, stencils
Battery operated toys
Board and card games
6 - 8 years
Paints, sketch pads
Simple tool sets
8 - 12 years
Hobby, craft materials
Jewelry, hair accessories