Cumberland Times-News

Local News

November 24, 2012

Program gathers toys for kids

Volunteers provide gifts for needy children

LAVALE — Toys for Happiness generally serves anywhere from about 2,200 needy children each year, according to president Chuck Koelker.

There may be more of a need this year, however,  as many in Garrett County were affected by Superstorm Sandy, said Jan Beem, a volunteer for Toys for Happiness since the program begin in 1981.

“We may get more applications from Garrett County this year,” said Koelker. “We have been providing toys for Garrett County for several years and every year that need grows.”

One day of collection has yielded at least 35 items, Koelker said.

Two large bags were donated at the gift-wraping station located in the food court in the Country Club Mall as of Saturday, according to Beem.

“We try to give to those who otherwise might not get a lot for Christmas,” said Koelker. “There are a large portion of under-privileged children in the area.”

Donations vary from individuals to businesses.

Sometimes, children who have benefited from the program donate and volunteer, according to Kristi Fetters, who was volunteering for the first time on Saturday.

Some also donate in memory of a loved one.

“My mom always donated in my dad’s memory and now I donate in memory of both of them,” said volunteer Nancy Armient. “When I was younger I used to volunteer here every Wednesday with my mom.”

Gift-wrapping will continue during mall hours until Christmas eve.

Donations for infants and teenagers are most needed.

Toys for Happiness ensures that every child receives a book, hat and gloves.

Donations can be dropped off at any of 30 barrels in the area, the gift-wrapping station at the mall as well as the Downtown Manager’s Office on South Mechanic Street.

Toys will be collected in the acrylic box near Tree House Toys every Friday night during the illuminated carriage rides.

Downtown Manager Ed Mullaney said he hopes to fill the sleigh in the window of the office with toys.

People who are unable to deliver their donation may call 301-722-5500 or 240-722-0962 to arrange a time and place for pickup.

During the Christmas tree lighting ceremonies on Friday, Neil Furlow’s 1913 International truck was parked downtown and utilized for toy donations.

Toys for Happiness welcomes any organization, business or groups of two or more people who wishes to volunteer to wrap gifts.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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