Gifts for Kids program accepting sign-ups through Dec. 1

Families who register with Gifts for Kids get a toy for each child, as well as household items, shopping vouchers and more. (Herald Review file photo)

Families who register with Gifts for Kids get a toy for each child, as well as household items, shopping vouchers and more. (Herald Review file photo)

OSCEOLA COUNTY — While the Christmas season is known as one of giving, complete with family togetherness and holiday goodies, some families may need a hand with the annual celebration.

The Gifts for Kids program, now in its 37th year, is now accepting registrations for the 2017 distribution. Sign-ups began Oct. 16 and will continue until Dec. 1. To register, families need to call Love, Inc., out of Cadillac at (231) 468-3204 or (231) 779-5205.

Gifts for Kids provides children with a Christmas present, as the name implies, but also supplies goods for the whole family, including hats, mittens or gloves, socks, household supplies, a $15 meat voucher to the store in their community, board games and a $10 voucher to the INC Spot store in Reed City.

“Ideally, families can use the meat voucher to get a turkey or something for their holiday dinner,” said John Klever, a Gifts for Kids volunteer. “The board games are designed to promote family time, and if people take their voucher to the INC Spot on the distribution date, the INC Spot will double its value, giving them $20 toward anything in the store. So every family that comes, each kid gets one present from the age-specific table, plus all the other stuff.”

The program is open to residents of Osceola County, regardless of age.

“Single adults can sign up too, they just won’t get the toys for kids,” Klever said. “Families must pre-register to be able to sign up because we need to know how many presents and how many baskets to have on hand. We always have a little left because we like to give people options, but it’s hard if people show up who didn’t register. I encourage all families to call and see if they qualify.”

Upon sign-up, families receive a time to arrive at the distribution, scheduled for Dec. 9 at Evart Middle School.

“I believe it’s first-come, first-served, so the people who call earliest get the earliest times,” Klever said. “They’re scheduled in half-hour increments so not everybody is in the gym at once.”

The program provides items to families thanks to community donations. A collaborative effort of churches, food pantries and other organizations, each group is responsible for a different portion of the collection, he explained.

“One church will have the 4- to 7-year-olds table, and a pantry might have the 0 to 3 table,” Klever said. “They all get their own presents and have their own different ways of doing that, and it all comes together in the end.”

Gifts for Kids does cross-reference with other programs to make sure there is no duplication of efforts and that all the people in need are getting served, he added.

Anyone who wishes to make a donation to the Gifts for Kids program can send the funds, made payable to Gifts for Kids, to Attn: John Klever, 800 Watertower Road, Big Rapids, MI, 49307. Klever, who is the community resource coordinator for the Mecosta-Osceola office of the Department of Health and Human Services, will receive the donations at his office, but the program is separate from DHHS.

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