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Toy drive needs donations

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

Community Christmas organizers and volunteers were looking at mostly empty toy barrels last week, and concern over whether there would be enough toys for 324 children in Truckee this Christmas was serious.

As collections draw to a close this week for toys, food, coats and gifts for families and seniors, organizers are hoping the donations will continue over the next few days.

“The toys are really necessary this year,” said Joan Hartwell, coordinator of Truckee Community Christmas and a member of Soroptimists, the service club that coordinates the annual program.

“More toys came in this past weekend and that made us feel a little better, but we have a lot more families to help this year. We’re hoping the toy barrels will be full this week.”

Approximately 142 families and 70 seniors and homebound citizens will receive extra help this year and distributions of all donated items will be on Dec. 18.

This year there are almost 100 more families that need help than last year, Hartwell said.

On Saturday, volunteers will wrap all of the toys in the Tahoe-Truckee High School cafeteria, so there are still two days left to donate toys for Truckee children. Toys and food will begin being sorted between 3 and 5 p.m. on Friday at the high school, which would also be a good time to drop off last-minute donations. Toys are especially needed for the infant (0-5) and teen (11-17) age groups.

“Our last day to pick up the toys is Dec. 14, but we will still accept donations up to Saturday morning,” said Brenda LeBlanc, who heads the toy drive.

Earlier this week LeBlanc noted that toy donations were only half what they were last year by that time in the drive.

“I think people are just more slow moving this year,” LeBlanc said, noting business in her Commercial Row shop, The Village Shoppe, just started picking up this past weekend. “We did put the barrels out a week early this year so we can distribute a week early.”

But as of yesterday morning, Community Christmas volunteers were feeling a little better.

“More people are calling in this week to see what they can do,” Hartwell said. “We’re feeling a little better. We’re not completely secure, but at least we can take care of the families.”

For the past seven years, the Truckee Community Christmas has remembered those in town who need a little extra attention during the holidays. The program has raised approximately $10,000 in donations from businesses and community members to spend on families.

“It comes from the hearts of the people in Truckee,” Hartwell said. “It’s the small amounts that really carry us through.”

The Adopt-A-Family program, sponsored by Truckee Rotary, helps more than 30 families – selected and adopted by local agencies, Community Care, school and churches – have brighter holidays. Sponsors provide a complete Christmas dinner, some household necessities and gifts for the children.

Gifts and food donations for Truckee’s senior and homebound citizens and some families are still being collected and although the deadline is tomorrow for collection, volunteers will still take donations through Monday.

The Resort at Squaw Creek is donating 29 decorated Christmas trees to Truckee families that were on display at the resort by local businesses.

The Sierra Board of Realtors has been collecting nonperishable food in collection barrels at both Safeway and Albertson’s, and food donations can continue to come in as late as next week as well. Contact Jim Goulding at 581-7633 or Bill Smidt at 587-1620.

“If food comes in after Monday, that’s okay, but we would prefer to have it before that day,” Hartwell said.

Clean, warm, current-style coats care being collected by the Church of the Mountains. Warm coats can still be dropped off at the Church of the Mountains or at the high school on Saturday. For drop-off information, call Virginia Knittle at 582-5212.

The food gift certificate program relies on the generosity of local residents, businesses and organizations who donate money specifically for families in this project. Tax-deductible cash donations are accepted.

Those interested in helping wrap gifts or who would like to bring last-minute toys should come to the TTHS cafeteria after 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. For information, call Hartwell at 587-7945.


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