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2015 Andersonville Toy Drive Kicks Off, Local Kids Will Benefit From Donations

toy2Halloween was just a couple of weeks ago, we just moved into standard time, Thanksgiving is around the corner. Everywhere you turn, though, there are commercials for Christmas things—sales, decorations and all the other activities associated with the holidays. Yet all the toys and trimmings are not available to every family and every child. Here in Andersonville, we try to do all we can for our neighbors in need served by Care for Real. Sarah Dandelles, fairly new to her position as events and fundraising director at the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, has been amazed at the generosity of businesses in our area. “Toys Etcetera,” she says, “donates a toy of equal or lesser value every time a toy is sold. They wait until the end of the drive, see what is needed and order things. … The Coffee Studio has been a drop off point since the beginning. George’s Ice Cream has, too.”

With those longtime businesses have come some changes. The drive will take place from November 20 to December 20. “Because the drive is longer this year,” Sarah Dandelles says, “it will take place during the two weekends of Late Night Andersonville on December 4 and 18.”Foursided and Runner’s Edge have joined the list of local businesses accepting donations. And with each donation, businesses often offer something in return—a cookie, an ornament, etc.

Lyle Allen, executive director of Care for Real, reports that there continues to be an increase in the number of individuals coming to them for assistance. “We provide about 11,000 articles of clothing per month and 125,000 pounds of food to prepare 1.2 million meals.” Thousands of people come to Care for Real for food and other services each month. “The greatest increase is among seniors,” Lyle says. “We heard recently that there won’t be an increase in Social Security benefits, and as you know, the prices at the grocery store continue to go up. Seniors who never thought they would need us have come to us for food and other services.”

Toy3But at this time of year, attention turns to families and children. “It is more fun to buy toys for little kids,” Lyle says, “but it is the teens and tweens who may not get as much. They really appreciate gift cards and gift certificates so that they can choose the things they want.”

Care for Real is staffed by four full-time employees but supported by a number of dedicated volunteers who help with food or clothing distribution or assist in the pet pantry. Distribution day for the toy drive is December 22—“It’s a really fun day around here,” Lyle says.

Lyle is humbled by the generosity of the community. “Anyone can find themselves needing help,” he says. With the support of the community, whether individuals, businesses or organizations, that help can be provided with dignity, and at this time of year, children of all ages can find a special gift.

The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce has truly gone above and beyond to support Care for Real and this toy drive. “I sent out an email to the entire staff,” Sarah Dandelles says, “asking if people would like to volunteer at Care for Real to help with the toy distribution day. Everyone [six employees] all said they would do it.”

So as we prepare for Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays, remember the toy drive and Care for Real especially from November 21 to December 21.

For more info on the Toy Drive, visit Andersonville.org


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