The fourth annual Because We Care toy drive is in full swing, but donations are down and the need is greater than ever, said Ann Farmer, founder and coordinator.
More than 300 children are on the toy giveaway list, hoping to receive something fun for Christmas through the generosity of strangers in the giving season.
The first round of donations came Saturday morning, Dec. 3 via vintage cars as the Oakdale Model A Club made their contributions in nostalgic style, packing their classically restored Model A vehicles with dolls, trucks, and assorted toys for children they’ve never met and likely never will. The car club has been participating in the toy drive since its inception and they said they’re happy to do it.
“Just keeps us from buying stuff we don’t need,” joked one car club member.
Another car club member handed over a crisp $100 bill in addition to the toys.
The exhibition of the giving spirit always moves coordinator Farmer to tears because this toy drive is near and dear to her heart. She simply cannot imagine a child going without at least one toy to unwrap on Christmas Day.
“This year more people are out of work and I knew the need was going to be bigger,” Farmer said.
Last year, 600 children were given something to light up their Christmas morning but donations were stronger.
However, Farmer is doggedly clinging to her faith that the Christmas spirit will find a way into the community’s hearts and the donations will pick up.
“I just have to have faith that it’s going to happen. I believe in what we’re doing and we’re going to make it. We’re going to get through it because it’s important to all those little children out there,” Farmer said.
Local resident Bob New is still busy creating hand-crafted wooden fire engines, which were a huge hit last year with the young boys, and he’s planning to be there at the giveaway again.
“He is such a blessing,” Farmer said of New. “He is another big benefit for us. We’re so happy he’ll be handing out his fire engines again.”
Next year, Because We Care coordinators may have to put a cap on the number of children placed on the list to keep it manageable.
The fact that there are so many children out there who are in these kinds of circumstances, keeps Farmer working day and night to make this happen.
“I’m pleading with the community to step up and I know they will. I have faith because this community is amazing,” Farmer said.
Anyone interested in donating new, unwrapped toys, or donations of wrapping paper, collection bins were placed at the following locations:
• Oakdale Police Department
• City Hall
• Save Mart
• Oakdale Chamber of Commerce
• Allstate insurance (1473 E. G Street, Ste. B)
• Oakdale Fire Department (both stations)
• Family Support Network
• Oakdale Mixed Martial Arts (111 N. First Ave.)
Save Mart has a tree with gift tags in the store now. The deadline for donation is Dec. 16.
Toys will be distributed on Dec. 22 at the community center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For more information on how to help or donate, call Ann Farmer at 209-409-4706 or Cathy at 209-847-5121, ext. 10 at Family Support Network.