By MORGAN MANNS
Sounds of gobbling turkeys and jingling bells are in the air.
Thanksgiving will soon be here and gone and holiday shopping will be upon us.
While Christmas is considered the season of giving, some say that giving doesn’t have to wait until December.
Two area organizations are accepting donations of new toys and new children’s books in an effort to bring holiday magic to area children this year.
The Fostoria Kiwanis Club is collecting donations of new children’s books to be given out to parents for their youngsters at a toy store in December, set up by A Christmas for Every Child, which collects new toys for the annual event.
“Literacy is a huge focus of Kiwanis as an organization and we wanted to add this nice enhancement to an already great program for area kids,” Julie Reinhart, Kiwanis Young Children Priority One chair, said. “Our mission really is centered around kids and we wanted to do something for the kids around Christmastime. We felt this was a good fit.”
Books should be geared toward children ages 3-11 and do not have to be Christmas stories, however, those will be accepted.
Kiwanis has set a goal of 400-500 books this year, which can be dropped off at the following locations in town: Kaubisch Memorial Public Library, 205 Perry St.; Brenamen Insurance & Financial Services, Inc./State Farm, 200 S. Main St.; First Federal Bank, 1684 N. Countyline St.; Good Shepherd Home, 725 Columbus Ave.; and the United Way of Fostoria, 105 S. Main St.
Any business wanting to set up a donation box internally for their employees may do so by contacting Reinhart.
This is the second year the Kiwanis club of Fostoria has decided to collect books for area children.
“The program was very well received last year,” Reinhart said. “We weren’t surprised at the generosity of folks who donated. We appreciate the ongoing support from the community. We feel like this is a program that reaches kids in a positive way.”
Deadline to donate books is Dec. 11.
Likewise, community members can place unwrapped, new toys in several boxes set up around town from now through Dec. 10 for the annual Christmas for Every Child holiday toy drive.
With the recent disbandment of Fostoria Cash Mob, another organization that was dedicated to helping area children and families during the holidays, organizers with A Christmas for Every Child are expecting their numbers to increase. Cash Mob helped around 200 children last year while A Christmas for Every Child helped nearly 350.
“There are a ton of sales out right now through Black Friday. It’s a prime time to take advantage of some of these sales,” Amber Herbert, organizer, said. “Our need is going to be a lot more extreme than it has been the past five years. We have to be able to meet our need and we hope to exceed it. But we all have to step up our game.”
In addition, A Christmas for Every Child has organized two Angel Trees.
Set up at Kmart and ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital, the trees are decorated with ornaments filled with wish lists from area children in need. Community members may take an ornament off of the trees and purchase an item from the list. With the ornament attached, the gifts can then be placed in any of the drop off boxes.
Herbert said popular wish list items include super hero action figures, Wonder Woman toys, Hatchimals, any Disney or princess items, kitchen and dish sets, Star Wars toys, Legos, unicorns, characters from popular children’s shows and more.
Boxes are set up at the following locations: Kmart, 620 Plaza Drive; Key Bank, 601 N. Countyline St.; ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital, 501 Van Buren St.; Geary Family YMCA, 154 W. Center St.; Superior Credit Union, 1650 N. Countyline St.; and Dr. Steven Geroski DDS, 430 Elm St.; as well as First Federal Bank, the Review Times and any Toys for Tots Box locations.
“I feel it’s so important for kids to have something under the tree, something to open on Christmas morning and bring that magic of Christmas to them,” Herbert said. “A lot of these kids may not get a new toy any other time of year. To be able to provide them with even one new toy, that brings that magic alive on Christmas morning.”
A Christmas for Every Child began nearly 13 years ago with a purpose of providing Christmas presents to every child in Fostoria. In conjunction with Toys for Tots, the organization now has a 501(c)3 status.
This will allow donors the opportunity to make a tax-deductible donation, an option they haven’t had in the past and one Herbert believes will bring in more donors.
Tax-deductible checks may be made to Toys for Tots with “Fostoria” written in the memo and dropped off at the Review Times, 113 E. Center St. Other checks, as well as cash donations, may be written to the Review Times and dropped off at the office during business hours.
“We are really in need of cash and check donations because we’re going to be doubling if not tripling our numbers this year,” Herbert said. “We need to be able to purchase some things to fill in the gaps and money we can spread out to buy things in bulk or hit Black Friday sales.”
Those who can’t shop for books, but still want to help put books in the hands of area children, may also make a monetary donation to the Kiwanis Club.
Checks can be made payable to the Fostoria Kiwanis Club and sent to P.O. Box 806, Fostoria, OH 44830.
The donated toys and books will be organized based on appropriate age groups and set up at a toy store in December. Families who qualify for the program will be given tickets and can exchange the tickets for toys.
“The closer Christmas approaches, the harder it is to get donations because money gets tighter for people and lives get busier,” Herbert said. “The wonderful thing about the Fostoria community is they always seem to step up and fulfill the need when it arises. I hope we can pull together again this year as we take on more area children in need.”
Letters were dropped off at the schools this week to be sent home with students in grades preK-6 attending school in the city of Fostoria — including local preschools. The applications must be filled out and returned by Nov. 18 for consideration.
For more information on donating books or to make a monetary donation, contact Reinhart at 419-436-6678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on donating toys, call the Review Times at 419-435-6641.