The holiday season starts in earnest this week, and with it comes the hunt for the perfect toys for the youngsters in your life. For too many, however, the hunt is limited or nonexistent. Fortunately, there are a number of local nonprofit organizations who aim to make sure that every child in the area has a happy holiday.
In Chatham, Harwich and Orleans, locations are available where residents who wish to give back something to the community can drop off new, unwrapped toys for kids of all ages. Most will be collecting toys during the next two or three weeks before getting them ready for distribution to area children.
The Chatham Fire Department will be hold its annual Firefighters' Annual Toy Drive this Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Depot Road fire station. Donations of new, unwrapped toys can also be dropped off at any time at the community center.
The program is a collaboration between the fire department, the Chatham Food Pantry, the Chatham Children's Fund, the community center, Lower Cape Outreach Council and Monomoy Community Services. MCS Director Theresa Malone said the majority of the donations stay in town and go to local families.
Working with schools, churches and other local organizations, Children's Fund Director Pat Vreeland identified about 110 families in need this season, which Malone said is about on par with last year's number. “Pat pretty much tracks them all down,” she said, and tries to match specific kids wishes with the donated toys. Other toys go to the Lower Reach Outreach Council, which also benefits local families who can come in and shop for toys.
“That seems to give families a lot more bang for their buck,” Malone said.
The Chatham Merchants Association, working with the Children's Funds, will hold a “Good Tidings” event Dec. 1 at the Wayside Inn where members and “community elves” can select a holiday wish list item for a local child. The event happens from 5 to 7 p.m. and is sponsored by the Wayside and the Merchants Association.
Complete Payroll Solutions in West Chatham is also a drop-off location for the Toys for Tots program, which is Capewide. The Giving Tree at Chatham Bars Inn is also collecting new, unwrapped toys for the Lower Cape Outreach Council.
Many local businesses are collecting toys for The Family Pantry of Cape Cod, which will be distributing gifts on Dec. 18 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The distribution is open to Pantry clients with children under 15, who must register by Dec. 8. Last year, 1,100 children signed up to receive toys from the Pantry, which provides gifts worth about $50 including games, stocking stuffers and clothing.
Toys for the Pantry program can be dropped off at the Harwich Chamber of Commerce, the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank branches in East Harwich and Harwich Port, William Raveis, The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, Second Glance Thrift Shop, Monahan and Co., Talbots and the Pantry warehouse at 133 Queen Anne Rd. All toys must be new and unwrapped; stuffed animals are not accepted. Gift cards are also needed for older children; tweens generally receive $25 gift cards.
The Lower Cape Outreach Council is the Orleans headquarters for toy collections for that community and for seven other Lower Cape towns, including Chatham and Harwich. New, unwrapped toys are being collected at various locations around town, including at Saturday's Pancake Breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the Orleans Yacht Club.
Those who wish to shop for more than just toys can shop for those most in need through the Homeless Prevention Council's Adopt-A-Family program. The Council has run the program since 1993, and last year 302 children in 137 families benefited from donations. For information about the program contact coordinator Maureen Linehan at 508-255-9667, extension 13, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.