OTTAWA — The Christmas season is a little brighter for several Putnam County families thanks to Toys For Tots and the Putnam County Community Thrift Store’s Christmas giveaway program.
Nancy Macke, thrift store manager, wore a Christmas light up necklace and helped check participants in Wednesday morning. There were 450 families who applied and will receive a free item during the distribution that continues through Friday. That same amount was served last year.
“In their time of need, we are here to help. In some years, there can be job losses, medical bills and people are on hard times. We are here to help with food, clothing and toys,” Macke said.
The food is donated to or purchased by the thrift store and will be passed out to those in need by over 30 volunteers. A recent food drive collected over 3,000 pounds of food, filling over 600 boxes for distribution. Each family receives a box of food and a bag with paper products.
Families with children ages 12 and under were able to go to the Eagles Lodge next to the thrift store to get free toys for their children.
Bernice Ruhe, thrift store co-manager, said people applied to be a part of the program in November.
Those who qualified were able to fill a large bag with housewares, clothing, jewelry and decorations from the store. They also received gift cards.
”It’s a time of giving, and we want children to wake up and have presents under the tree. We want to help families because times are tough,” Ruhe said.
Phyllis Macke, thrift store board treasurer, said her father, William Croy, started the Christmas For The Needy program in 1976.
“His intentions were to give a toy to children in the county in need, and for six years he gave basketballs to boys and Barbies to girls,” Macke said.
Now it has grown to the Putnam County Optimist Club collecting toys that are distributed by the thrift store at the Eagles lodge. Tables were filled with stuffed animals, dolls, Barbies, makeup and board games. Toy trucks and sport equipment were toy options for young boys.
Becky Diemer, Toys For Tots co-coordinator with Glen Arnold, thanked everyone who gave the toys and monetary donations.
“This shows families that we care about them and want them to have a nice Christmas,” Diemer said.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.