Christmas programs help families in need

2013-12-02T14:08:00Z 2013-12-10T13:29:04Z Christmas programs help families in needCHRISTY HOOTS christy.hoots@lee.net Ledger Independent
December 02, 2013 2:08 pm  • 

Several programs in the area are offering help to low-income families just in time for the Christmas season.

The Toys for Tots program will be distributing gifts on Dec. 14, according to Vocational School health science teacher Mary Beth Riggins.

Riggins said the program serves the Buffalo Trace area, with donations being collected in several locations.

Those locations include: Super 8 Motel, on US 68; Auto Zone along US 68, in Maysville; Bradford’s Home Mart in Augusta; Jim’s Auto Outlet in Brooksville; Bracken County Resource Center in Brooksville; Shugars Auto Supply in downtown Maysville; Cash Express, near the Limestone Center in Maysville; Cash Advance, near the Cinema in Maysville; Mason County Area Tech Center on Kenton Station Rd in Maysville on Monday – Friday 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Foodland in Vanceburg; Boys and Girls Club in Clarksburg; and the Church of Christ in Quincy.

"The program has been going on for over 20 years," Riggins said.  "It's a very important program, because times are difficult right now and it helps families who may not have any other options for their children."

Last year, the program served more than 900 children, according to Riggins.

"We're expecting about the same this year," she said.

Riggins said donations of new and use toys are accepted, as long as the used toys are in good, working order.  Monetary donations are also accepted.

"We get a lot of toys for younger children," she said.  "That's where the monetary donations come in.  We can use that money to get items appropriate for the older children."

Riggins said donations are accepted for children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years.

Parents who wish to sign up for donations can send a letter to 668 Kenton Station Rd., Maysville, Ky. 41056 or an email to toysfortots@mason.kyschools.us.

Only the age and gender of the child is needed.

"During distribution, the parents can come in and give us their last name," Riggins said.  "We will send a student to find the bag with the name and we'll help carry it out to their vehicle."

Riggins said parents will be able to pick up toys between 8-4 p.m. on Dec. 14 at the vocational school.

The Garrison Shortstop, owned by Cindy Applegate, will be hosting the fourth annual Christmas Toy Drive on Dec. 21.

Applegate said distribution will take place at the Outfield Hardware building, located behind the Garrison Shortstop.  Parents will be able to bring their children to get a gift and visit Santa.

The toys for the program are donated by other residents of Lewis County.  Donations will be accepted until the afternoon of the program, according to Applegate.

"It's open to all school-age children up to 18," Applegate said.  "We're going to have Santa Claus and his helpers stopping by and we'll have gifts for the children."

Applegate said last year, over 300 children were in attendance.

"It seems to grow every year," she said.  "We always try to base the numbers on the year before and have at least that many gifts available to the children."

Applegate said she wraps all the gifts donated and will write whether it is for a boy or a girl and what age the gift should be given to.

"We just ask that people donate toys that are in good condition to give to the children," she said.  "We appreciate any donations."

Applegate said the event will begin at 3 p.m. and continue until all the gifts have been given to the children.

The event is open to children residing in the Lewis County area.  Anyone with questions can contact Applegate at the Garrison Shortstop.

Other events in the are include the 14th annual B.J.'s Gift of Giving, which will take place on Dec. 14 on the third floor of the Cox Building in downtown Maysville from 2-5 p.m., according to the B.J.'s Gift of Giving Facebook page.

The program is hosted by Billie Lofton, who created the event after she and her husband, Larry, lost their son, B.J., in 1999.

"We lived in Maysville, but moved to Atlanta in 1986," she said.  "In 1999, our son, William, who we called B.J., passed away.  He was 17 then.  We decided we would start this program to honor his memory."

Lofton said families are invited to bring their children to the Cox building, where they will receive one wrapped gift, a bag with candy and fruit and have their name placed in a drawing for a bike.

Santa Claus will be traveling from "the South Pole to Atlanta and then to Maysville," Lofton said.

Children will be able to visit with Santa during the day and will also receive a dinner.

The main event will take place in the ballroom area, while parents will be able to enjoy snacks in another room.

According to Lofton, last year about 160 children were served and 200 are expected this year.

"Each year, it gets bigger and better," she said.  "We want everyone to come out and have a nice time."

The Angel Tree program is also in full swing.

According to Mason County Schools Family Resource Coordinator Mary Robinson-Griffey, the angel trees are located at the Maysville Walmart, the Boys and Girls Club, Curves, and the YMCA.

"We have about 452 names on the tree this year," Robinson-Griffey said.  "We had 533 children signed up, but other businesses will take some of the names before we put them on the trees, and will sponsor the children."

Last year, 579 children received gifts, according to Robinson-Griffey.

Robinson-Griffey said on each of the trees, there is a card with the ages and gender of the children.  Once a child is selected, an item can be purchased for the child and returned to the same location.

"They don't have to return the gifts to the same location," Robinson-Griffey said.  "It isn't a requirement.  They can turn them into my office, but we figured it would make it easier for them.  So, if a family purchases a gift from Walmart, they can just return the gift to the service desk, instead of bringing it here.  We will pick up donated gifts."

In order to be put on the Angel Trees, the child must attend Mason County Schools and be under the age of 18.

Copyright 2015 Ledger Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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