A holly, jolly effort

Community support pours in for Christmas for Kids

Moffat County United Way Director Corrie Scott thinks no child should be without a Christmas present, and this year a generous community has ensured that won't happen.

In addition to $4,631 that United Way contributors requested go to Christmas for Kids, hundreds of toys and thousands of dollars poured into the program during the KRAI Holiday Drive.

Allocated specifically to Christmas for Kids was $4,868.75 and "hundreds and hundreds and hundreds" of toys, according to KRAI program director Joshua Fleming.

"The majority of people who donated really wanted to split the funds," he said.

Other programs assisted by the holiday drive were Advocates-Crisis Support Services, Christmas for Seniors, Interfaith Food Bank and the Independent Life Center.

But it's Christmas for Kids that received some of the most memorable gestures. The Craig Elks Club loaded a truck with more than $3,000 worth of toys.

Combined with other efforts, Christmas for Kids has a warehouse full of toys waiting to be distributed to children who might otherwise go without.

Applications for the program are available at the United Way office, 651 Yampa Ave. and should be returned by Monday.

Participation is income-based, and applicants need to provide their Colorado Works enrollment information, 2003 tax returns and proof of income, if any.

Basically, program director Georgina McAnally said, if people qualify for food assistance, they will qualify for Christmas for Kids.

McAnally said second-hand applications have been accepted before -- submitted by people who knew of others in need that would not apply themselves.

"We'll look at all cases," she said. "Exceptions will be considered and applications evaluated on a case-by-case basis."

There are several instances McAnally has seen where a person didn't meet the income guidelines but was approved anyway because of special circumstances.

She estimates less than 1 percent of applications are denied.

As many as 325 children have received Christmas gifts through the program, though it's expected to be less this year. With just a few days until the deadline, McAnally estimates about 100 applications have been submitted.

Applicants include their child's age, sex and interests as well as specific gift requests. Each child gets about $50 worth of gifts -- though that, too, fluctuates. Children without bikes will generally get a bike through a cooperative agreement with Bikes for Kids.

McAnally's been involved with Christmas for Kids since 1991 and has many heartwarming stories. She tells of parents who come in and cry when they see what their children are getting, telling McAnally, "I wouldn't have been able to buy anything."

Others aren't as touching. McAnally said she's had people come to collect toys and ask, "Is this all?"

"When I get an application that says 'just anything' on the request line, that's touching," she said.

What committee members can't collect from the toys that are donated, they shop for with donated funds.

They have been invited to Kmart during the "employees only" sale.

"(The shopping) is just a blast," McAnally said. "We have so much fun."

Christmas for Kids serves all of Moffat County.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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