Several local organizations are hard at work to ensure that Scotland County’s needy find a place on everyone’s Christmas list.
A number of local businesses are serving as dropoff points for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive, including Walmart, Big Lots, Alltel Wireless, PHS Staffing on Lauchwood Drive, Electrical Equipment Company, and St. Andrews University. In Maxton, toys can be dropped off at Walgreens and Umicore.
According to Shirley Anne Chestnut, director of Toys for Tots in Scotland, Hoke and Robeson counties, donated items will be distributed to local families who have applied to receive them this year. In 2011, some 1,000 children received Christmas gifts through Toys for Tots.
The program serves children and youth up to age 21, including older teenagers with disabilities.
“We’re trying to reach out to the older kids,” said Chestnut. “We have a lot of special needs children who are older in age. I know we’re not able to get the videos and PlayStations for them, but we do what we can to make kids happy who would not otherwise have a Christmas.”
For a complete list of dropoff locations in Scotland, Hoke, and Robeson counties, visit maxton-nc.toysfortots.org. Toys for Tots will accept donations until Dec. 22.
Scotland County’s Christmas Cheer program is accepting everything from toys and clothes to dish soap and window cleaner this season, as many seniors are on its rolls this season.
“There’s so much need in Scotland County,” said Christmas Cheer Director Eutha Tart. “We’ve got so many senior citizens that we’re giving food and gift bags - if they’ve got bills to pay they may not have extra money left.”
Christmas Cheer hopes to deliver gifts to 390 local families by Christmas, 130 of which have already been sponsored by individuals and churches. Most families were referred to Christmas Cheer by the Scotland County Department of Social Services, Four County Community Services and Scotland County schools.
“We’ve got two more weeks to get all this done, so we’re trying our best,” said Tart. “We’ve got families with seven children, so anything anybody gives will be appreciated at this point. We don’t want any children to be without a toy, a gift, or something for Christmas.”
This week, Campbell’s Soup will donate bicycles to be distributed at Christmas, but other items, especially clothing for men and teenaged girls, cleaning supplies, and toiletries, are needed. Items will be accepted until Dec. 24.
For information about donating to Christmas Cheer or sponsoring a family, call the Christmas Cheer office at 277-0026. The office, located in the Church Community Services building on Gill Street, is open from 8:30 a.m. until noon Mondays through Fridays.
The Scotland County Department of Social Services is also accepting donations of new toys and clothing for children and youth in foster care.
DSS raised some monies for foster children’s Christmas gifts with a cornhole tournament earlier in the year, and several local industries have donated toys.
“We raised that money and that was kind of our big fundraiser,” said Jennifer Byrd, social work supervisor at DSS. “Certainly we’ll take what anyone brings, from monetary donations to new toys. We’re having a party next week when we’ll give some of that stuff out.” DSS currently has 39 children in foster care in Scotland County, many of them aged 13 and above.
“It’s always easier to buy for younger ones,” Byrd said. “The older ones are more expensive; they ask for name-brand shoes like any other child, but they deserve Christmas like everybody else.”