Local organizations are making a last push for donations of toys, money and food to help make Christmas a little brighter for families in need.

Jackson County Sertoma Club is looking for people to buy toys for an estimated 75 children in the county. Those children are part of the club’s angel trees.

“The angels have been coming off the trees comparatively slower than in the past,” said John Fox, co-chairman of Sertoma’s Christmas Miracle Project.

Angel trees are at the Seymour Library, the Jackson County Visitor Center, Tractor Supply Co. and Nstylz Hair Design, all in Seymour. Each paper angel lists one or two toys the child would like to receive for Christmas. Requests are kept to no more than $35.

The trees will remain up today for people to choose an angel, but the club will accept donations of toys and money through Tuesday. Toy collection boxes also are located at Orscheln Farm and Home, 1501 E. Tipton St. and Exist Salon and Spa,

425 W. Second St.

Besides a main gift, Sertoma tries to provide a small, secondary item for each kid, and those will come from the donation boxes.

“Donations to the collection boxes have been great,” Fox said.

Several local companies sponsored their own angel trees or conducted toy drives to help fill the need.

But Fox estimates the club is about $5,000 short.

Anyone wanting to help fulfill a Christmas Miracle wish can pick up an angel, buy the requested gift and then drop it off at Christmas Miracle Headquarters at 1315 E. Tipton St.

Volunteers will wrap and box up the toys and then deliver them on Christmas Eve morning.

Time is running out

Fox said he believes one of the reasons the angels aren’t going as fast is because a lot of people just aren’t ready for Christmas.

“I think people are having a tough time believing it’s Christmas already,” he said. “They think they have time, but it’s running out.”

Angels not taken off the trees will receive gifts purchased by Sertoma.

“We’ll start using money donations Saturday morning to buy for those kids,” Fox said.

In all, he said, the need doesn’t seem to be as great this year based on the number of requests the club has received.

“Our number of boxes is going to be down from a peak of 400 in 2012,” he said. “We’re looking to be in the mid 300s, so it’s down about 10 percent.”

He says that’s good news because it means more families are able to provide for their children.

“If you look at the local economy, more people are back to work,” he said.

‘Every penny counts’

Another local charity that continues to accept donations is the Salvation Army through it’s annual Red Kettle campaign.

Linda Lawyer, who is co-directing the fundraiser this year with her daughter, said giving to the organization has been “tremendous.”

Totals for each day of collection have been more than $1,000, with one day reaching nearly $1,500 she said. The campaign began Nov. 28 with volunteers ringing bells outside Walmart to encourage people to donate what they can.

“There’s been several $100 bills and $50 bills in the kettles so far,” Lawyer said. “It just seems like everyone that goes by donates something.”

One thing she’s noticed from being a bell ringer in the past is that it’s not just those with money who give.

“People will say they can’t give much, but every penny counts,” she said.

She believes donations are up this year and hopes they top last year’s total of $22,144.55.

“We always want to raise more than the past year,”

she said.

All donations to the Jackson County Red Kettle drive stay local and are distributed by Human Services Inc. to help low-income residents with a variety of needs. Donations help provide heating and other utility assistance, rent, medications, winter clothing, work boots, holiday meals and Christmas gifts for children.

As former director of Human Services, Lawyer said people have told her that, when they were in need, the Salvation Army was there to help.

Lawyer said the needs are just as great this year if not greater. Luckily, she has not had trouble filling bell-ringer shifts this year.

“I really appreciate everyone’s willingness to ring,” she said. “I think there is such great support for the Salvation Army, because it’s a Christian company, and people know where the money is going, that it stays right here in Jackson County.”

Providing a meal

To make sure local residents in need can have a hot meal on Christmas Day, two groups are accepting donations and looking for volunteers to help.

The Alley Kitchen will have a meal from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

“We’ll do what we always do,” Alley Pastor Rick Wilson said.

The church will provide transportation to and from the meal if needed.

“We know there are people out there who are hungry, and no one should be alone on Christmas,” Wilson said. “We would love to have them.”

Wilson said the kitchen is always looking for volunteers and financial donations to help provide daily free, hot meals to the hungry.

Anyone needing transportation to the meal site, should call the church at 812-525-5858.

Brooklyn Pizza Co. and Bubba’s Place bar in Seymour have teamed up to fix 1,000 turkey or ham meals with all the trimmings for people in Jackson County. The meals will be available for pickup on Christmas Day at Brooklyn Pizza or by delivery.

The last day to request a meal is today by calling United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline.

Shawn Malone, owner of Brooklyn Pizza, said financial donations to cover the costs of food are being accepted, and anyone wanting to help deliver meals should call Brooklyn Pizza at 812-524-8888 or Bubba’s Place at 812-522-2818.

Also the American Legion’s annual Christmas Basket Fund continues to accept donations in order to purchase $50 Jay C gift cards for those seeking food assistance. Donations can be made through Wednesday at The Tribune or any JCB branch anonymously and can be dedicated to others. The list of donations will be printed in The Tribune daily.

Donations as of Thursday morning had reached $8,170.

At a glance

Jackson County Sertoma Club’s Christmas Miracle Angel Trees are used to help make Christmas a little brighter for children in need.

The trees can be found at the following locations in Seymour:

  • Jackson County Public Library, 303 W. Second St.
  • Jackson County Visitor Center, 100 N. Broadway St.
  • Tractor Supply Co., 2003 E. Tipton St.
  • Nstylz Hair Design, 321 E. Second St.

Donation boxes also are available at Orscheln Farm and Home Store, 1051 E. Tipton St., and Exist Salon and Spa, 425 W. Second St.

Gifts also can be taken to Christmas Miracle Headquarters, 1315 E. Tipton St.

To receive a free, hot Christmas meal in Jackson County:

Call United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline to sign up. Callers will need to provide their name, address, telephone number, number of meals needed and whether they want turkey or ham.

Deadline to sign up is today.

Meals can be delivered or picked up at Brooklyn Pizza at 753 W. Second St. in Seymour from noon to 5 p.m. on Christmas Day.

To sign up as a volunteer to package and deliver meals, call Brooklyn Pizza at 812-524-8888 or Bubba’s Place at 812-522-2818.

Monetary donations to cover the costs of the meals can be made at Brooklyn Pizza or Bubba’s Place, 402 S. Walnut St. in Seymour.

Christmas Basket Fund

Monetary donations from individuals and businesses may be given to the Christmas Basket Fund through any branch of JCB, The Tribune or American Legion Post 89.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.