Donations bring joy at C-CAP giveaway
WINCHESTER — Hundreds of area families will have a merrier Christmas this year thanks to the generosity of their community.
The Congregational-Community Action Project’s annual Christmas giveaway started Wednesday and will continue from 8 a.m. to noon today in the Family Life Center at Mount Carmel Baptist Church on Pleasant Valley Road.
On Wednesday morning, a steady stream of people entered the center’s gymnasium to “shop” for an assortment of items including new toys and clothes, household goods, books and games for their families.
The two-day giveaway was postponed Monday and Tuesday because of snow and ice storms in the area.
C-CAP President Fran Ricketts said about 300 families in need — including more than 700 children — signed up for the opportunity several weeks ago. Even those who didn’t sign up can come select items today, she said.
“They come through and pick out new toys,” Ricketts said. “We have enough for every child to have a new toy, plus slightly loved [toys], new clothing, and every family that passes through here gets a new blanket [and] a ditty bag.”
The latter is full of household items.
“When you can’t get bread and milk on the table, it’s hard to buy cleaning products,” Ricketts said.
Each family was also given a ham to take home this year, thanks to a donor who bought 300, Ricketts said.
“And, every child gets a coat, brand new,” she said.
The Rotary Club of Winchester provided the coats, and Rubbermaid donated brooms, mops and other cleaning products.
For the children, there were balls, hula hoops, bikes, Disney Princess dolls, Care Bears, Pillow Pets, crayons, bubbles, books, DVDs, Spiderman toys and the like. A large collection of new blankets included handmade quilts.
Everything was donated by individuals and local organizations. Volunteers from Mount Carmel helped with traffic, and volunteers with First United Methodist Church prepared food and beverages for all to enjoy.
“We bought nothing,” Ricketts said. “We’re just sort of the facilitator of all the goods. Gifts are still coming in.”
City resident Melissa Pukas brought her 2-year-old daughter, Lillith, the youngest of her five children, to the Family Life Center.
“I think this is pretty neat,” she said. “I think it’s pretty cool.”
Pukas said that back in her native New Jersey, such events usually feature presents that have already been wrapped.
“This one, you actually get to choose stuff, so it’s like you’re actually shopping,” she said.
Pukas hopes the giveaway makes Christmas brighter for her children, who are ages 2, 6, 8, 12 and 17.
“It will be better than nothing because without this I probably wouldn’t have anything,” she said.
Lisa Miller was with her stepfather shopping for her three children, ages 1, 4 and 6, “just so the kids can have a better Christmas.”
She picked out Play-Doh, Legos, puzzles and stuffed animals.
“It does help a lot,” Miller said.
C-CAP volunteer Heidi Banks was working her third giveaway.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s amazing,” she said. “It’s worth it.”
Bethany Searfross is the clothing manager for C-CAP. She said the group has been putting aside new clothing items throughout the year just for the giveaway.
“It’s been a flurry of activity,” she said. “It’s been busy. I know the clients have been anxious to get here the last two days. They seemed very grateful today.
“There may be some that want to be able to get something for their husband, or they want to be able to get something for their wife. This way, we can help them by giving them a brand new set of pajamas, or a nice sweater, even a coat.”
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