AMHERST – There’s a lot of need, but lots of people are stepping up to help.
That’s the message so far in the Christmas for Kids campaign to ensure Cumberland children have presents under the tree Christmas morning.
“The phone has been ringing off the hook,” said the program’s co-ordinator, Jean Miller.
The calls are from people requesting help: a bundle of toys for their child, typically, but the headquarters at the Amherst mall – in Dr. Ferguson’s old office space – also takes referrals for holiday food boxes.
The charity has nine ‘angel’ trees scattered around the county, including in Oxford and Pugwash (but not Springhill). Each tree is festooned with slips of paper, each detailing the needs of one child. Good Samaritans take a wish list and fill it, spending about $40, then take the list and toys to Christmas for Kids.
Gift givers are stepping up to help.
“I can’t keep up with it right now…,” said Miller. She said over 300 children have sponsors so far, and they just started Nov. 21. Angel trees will be in place for the rest of this week and the next. The last day parents can apply for assistance is Dec. 7. Packages are picked up the subsequent week. The group helped 576 kids last year.
“I can’t see us being too much off that mark,” said Miller.
One concern has cropped up, though: Donors are eager to help young kids, but less likely to take the name of an older child or teen. The charity seeks to help kids aged 15 and younger.
“(People) like to shop for the little ones,” said Miller.
She thinks there’s more variety, and you get more for your money, when buying gifts for little kids. People may also be of the view that it’s more exciting when they receive presents.
Cumberland Toyota and the Amherst Daily News conducted toy drives for the organization during Amherst’s Santa Claus parade.
Public participation in the toy drive is an expression of the heart, according to Miller.
“If they have any Christmas spirit…they’ll do it,” she said.