Organizers hope extending drop off, sign up and distribution schedule will enable more people to participate in annual holiday gift drive
Christmas Gifts for Cheney Kids’ organizers have made changes they hope will help them avoid the slow start of last year’s campaign happening with this year’s drive.
The deadline for contributing and signing up for the gift distribution has been extended by almost a week, with the deadline now Dec. 19 and distribution Saturday, Dec. 21, at the Wren Pierson Community Center’s main room, 616 Fourth St. Last year both took place Dec. 14, possibly contributing to a slow start to the giving, which ended up down from an “outstanding” year in 2010, project coordinator Sally Shamp said.
“We hope this gives people more time to shop, think about giving and for parents to sign up,” she added.
In 2010 the drive gave out toys to 208 children through age 18 and had enough gifts for five per child. Last year they served 207 children, but only had enough for three gift per child. By comparison, other gift distribution drives give out one gift per child, Shamp said, adding, “Any more than that is something the kids and the parents really appreciate.”
The distribution begins at 9 a.m. and runs to 1 p.m. Shamp said parents who sign up can come early and wait in the center’s lobby.
Parents who want to sign up for the distribution need to do so at Cheney Outreach, also in the Wren Pierson Building but on the east side at 616 Third St. The Outreach is open Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and can be reached at 235-9800.
Distribution is limited to Cheney-area children of families in need. When signing up parents need to bring proof of residence, income, photo ID and a family Social Security card.
Shamp said she has a song she sings when she promotes the drive at meetings of local organizations such as Kiwanis and Rotary. It’s not something that translates well to the printed page, so she listed over a dozen gift ideas: Books, sports balls, coats, gloves and scarves, MP3 players, toys, stuffed animals, games, skateboards and scooters (if found at a discount as these can be expensive), bicycle and skateboard helmets, cologne and perfume for teenage boys and girls, crafts and CDs/DVDs.
About 45 percent of kids signing up are teenagers, Shamp said, something important for people interested in giving since many tend to assume – and therefore purchase for – younger children are the ones in need.
Shamp said Christmas Gifts for Cheney Kids is important to the community for the main reason that it’s local – within walking distance for many. Low-income families often lack personal vehicles, making Christmas shopping difficult because those items must be transported on public transit, becoming cumbersome and exposing those carrying the items to theft.
The organization also accepts monetary donations, with checks made out to “Xmas Gifts for Kids” and sent to Cheney Outreach. Shamp also said gifts should not be wrapped, as they will be placed on tables where registered families can browse for what they need.
“Parents are shopping, it’s just they don’t have to pay,” she said, adding the experience of seeing a parent finding something for their child is something never forgotten.
“Oh the joy in that room,” Shamp said. “It’s just infectious.”
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.