While 57 needy children in the area have been "adopted" for the holidays, there are still more than 200 waiting for someone to step up to provide clothing items and a toy.
The Adopt-a-Child program, coordinated by volunteers at the Help Center, accepted applications previously this month, and is now looking for donations to meet the needs and some of the wishes of the children.
"We are blessed to have people who care about children in our community," Kathy Craghead, coordinator and Help Center board member, said. "Each year we have individuals, families, clubs, school and Scout groups support the program. We have employees at businesses who choose to adopt children instead of having a work party or gift exchange, and businesses which hold toy drives on our behalf."
Last year 316 children received gifts from the Adopt-a-Child program, which is open to children age birth-16 who live in Audrain County. The children receive at least one new clothing item and at least one of their toy requests.
"For some of the givers, part of the fun of participating is doing the shopping," Craghead said. "They prefer to get information, then purchase the gifts themselves. Others prefer to make monetary donations or will simply drop toys they have collected for us to match up with children."
Anyone who wants to adopt a child to shop for may contact Craghead at the Help Center, at 581-3238. Information given will include the age and sex of the child, clothing sizes and most crucial need, and a toy request. Givers are asked to budget approximately $25 per child.
These gifts need to be received at the Help Center by Dec. 12, and need to be in a black (or other non-see-through) trash bag with the child's identifying number on the outside. The Center is open Monday-Thursday, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Another way to shop for a specific child is to select a stocking from the tree in the entryway of Walmart. The tags give the needed information, which allows a giver to shop, pay for the items, and leave them at the Service Desk for pick up by Craghead. The tags from the tree should not be removed from the store.
"Between now and Dec. 12 I will go to Walmart every day to pick up the gifts left there," Craghead said. "The generosity of the residents of our area is amazing, and the cooperation of Walmart manager Dustin Graham and his employees is outstanding."
Checks to support the program should be made payable to the Help Center.
"The amount of the donation doesn't have to be large," Craghead said. "Every bit helps. Also, if someone can't afford to adopt a child, smaller donations of items such as Christmas candy, books, card games, coloring books, socks or baby toys are very much needed."
In previous years, many special donations have been made. "Sunday school classes and Scout troops have given treat bags, club members have donated personal items such as toothbrushes and body lotion, and businesses have given donations of hats/gloves and diapers," Craghead said.
This year, 21 children have been adopted by clubs and classes at Mexico High School. The program at MHS is coordinated by science teacher Michelle Yount. "The greatest part of this program is seeing students who participated in the program when they were in high school then step up to organize the giving of the next generation," Craghead said. "That circle of giving is the best of small town living."