If you know a child in need from age 18 months to 12 years old who Christmas is not looking good for, please come out to this years Toys for Tots application days. Applications will be taken from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15 and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16 at Maggie's House, 808 N. Prairieville.
Athens Fire Department is sponsoring children in the following school districts:
Athens, LaPoynor, Murchison, Brownsboro and Chandler.
To complete an application, you must not have received assistance in 2017 and 2018. Please have these things with you, proof of residency for the family, Photo ID of parents, Proof of Guardianship, child's birth certificate, social security card, photo ID or report card.
There are many children in Henderson County that are in need.
“I've been doing this for about 10 years now,” Fire Marshal Lance West said. “Every year we have helped probably between 300 and 350 kids. If we didn't do this, these kids wouldn't have a Christmas, we don't want to see any kid go without. We are trying to knock the burden off of the parents.”
He said parents and Santa Claus should take the credit for the gifts and so parents are asked to come pick up the gifts several days before Christmas. One year they were even able to give bicycles.
The community's help is needed to make this possible.
“We take donations, if anyone wants to donate, they can bring a new unwrapped toy to different locations in Athens,” West said. “Some businesses call and ask for a box to be set up for donations. Otherwise you can bring them to the fire department.”
The help center does all of the applications and screening. They find that these kids truly need help.
The Cain foundation donates money as well and AFD purchases some toys with that. The department accept toys all year, but the largest quantity comes in from October to December.
For West personally the event takes on a deeper meaning.
“I know modern day Christmas is about 'things' but the true meaning of Christmas is about the birth of Christ. That is what it means to me, to be able to help keep that alive...passing along God's work,” he said.
West told the Athens Review the joy came in being able to make sure the kids were able to get toys and knowing that he was able to do something to better the community. Occasionally they do see the kids, and he mentioned the glimmer of excitement on their faces.
Look for boxes throughout the city, some businesses and stores will have a large box set out. In the past Ken's Pizza has had one. People wishing to donate are also more then welcome to drop off at the fire station located at 610 S. Prairieville St. Athens.