Local organizations spread holiday cheer

Donations needed for adopt a family, holiday gift programs

Toys for Tots/Gifts for Teens is collecting donations, as well as various organizations in the area for holiday gift programs. (News Advocate file photo)

Toys for Tots/Gifts for Teens is now collecting donations, as well as other organizations in the area for holiday gift programs. (News Advocate File Photo)

MANISTEE — The season of giving has commenced and many opportunities are currently available throughout Manistee County to make this holiday season accessible to families in need.

Among others, ECHO His Love of Manistee is currently searching for residents to join its Adopt a Family for Christmas program, and give by either donating gifts or money. Robin Paulus, executive director, said the program had 44 adopters signed up as of Monday.

“We are still seeking about 40 adopters, or people who are willing to donate some money so that we could purchase the gifts,” said Paulus. “Or if they want to just donate toys or household items, we also collect those for our Christmas shopping event (for Family Life Center program members).”

The ECHO His Love Christmas shopping event is held each December as a local tradition. Members shop for various items using points collected throughout the Family Life Center program.

For the Adopt a Family for Christmas program, residents can choose to adopt an entire family, which could be with or without children in various household sizes; or help to support part of a family.

“There’s no standard donation amount. If someone would like to, they can just contact the office and we will get their name on the list,” she said. “They can write out a check or drop (the money) off. We have volunteers that help to do the shopping for any families that we are not able to match with an adopter.”

Paulus said the families are able to give out suggestions of what to buy.

“The adults are able to give clothing sizes, one gift suggestion and a stocking stuffer suggestion,” Paulus said. “For the children in the family they give clothing sizes, they give two gift suggestions for the children and a stocking stuffer suggestion.”

Another local program, FiveCAP’s Toys for Tots and Gifts for Teens is now accepting applications. The programs are open to parents and guardians of children ages 0 to 18 years old in Manistee and Mason counties.

During distribution, parents are able to shop through a wide range of gifts, choosing something for each child. FiveCAP will be collecting toys and gifts in barrels around the county.

Distribution is scheduled for Dec. 19 and 20.

“This is one of the best things about our program,” said Mary L. Trucks, executive director. “Instead of just providing each family with presents, with Toys for Tots/Gifts for Teens parents get to go shopping, in a sense, for things they know their children will enjoy. Everyone gets really excited when they see the rows and rows of toys and gifts to choose from.”

Those eligible can apply for Toys for Tots/Gifts for Teens at the Manistee County FiveCAP office, located at 265 First St., in Manistee. For more information or to volunteer with distribution, call (231) 723-8327.

Charitable contribution forms are also available at www.fivecap.org, for those that would like to give a cash donation to purchase toys.

Additional opportunities to give back for the holidays include the annual “Jingle Bell Jam,” at the American Legion Post No. 10 on River Street — scheduled for 7-11 p.m. on Dec. 8. The event features not only live entertainment, but all proceeds benefit the Toys for Tots and Gifts for Teens program.

Admission to the concert is one new, unwrapped toy or cash donation.

The VFW Walsh Post No. 4499 also will offer a chance to donate to Toys for Tots from 3-6 p.m. on Dec. 15, as members of the public are invited to enjoy dinner and music played by DJ Larry Bialik, along with karaoke. Bring a toy to benefit a child for Christmas.

During the Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend, the Festival of Trees presented by the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce — held from Dec. 7-9 at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts — is also collecting unwrapped toys to benefit Toys for Tots/Gift for Teens.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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