Christmas for Kids needs help

Posted 11/18/19

It’s crunch time for a local charity that provides wrapped presents for children to open on Christmas morning.

Dawn Kirby said Christmas for Kids provided presents to approximately 650 children …

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Christmas for Kids needs help


It’s crunch time for a local charity that provides wrapped presents for children to open on Christmas morning.

Dawn Kirby said Christmas for Kids provided presents to approximately 650 children throughout Edgar County in 2018. She stressed the charity is not just for Paris families.

Preparing for Christmas is a yearlong activity for Kirby and her sister Debi Ford and a small cadre of other volunteers, who do the shopping. A major event in the effort is the two-day wrap party where volunteers gift wrap the presents chosen for each child and place the gifts in a family bag for delivery to the home by other volunteers.

Kirby said the 2019 wrap party at Lake Ridge Christian Church is Dec. 4 and 5, which is earlier in the month than normal. The church, she said, had a scheduling conflict later in the month that prompted Christmas for Kids to select an earlier date.

“It was easier to go early than late,” said Kirby. “That will be the wrap party and the gift distribution.”

Wrapping starts at 9 a.m. each day and can go as late as 9 or 10 p.m., depending on the number of volunteers available. Distribution starts as soon as other volunteers are available to begin delivery. People wanting to help just need to go to the church at a time personally convenient for them as there is always plenty of work to do over the two days of the wrap party.

“The more volunteers we have the quicker it gets done,” said Kirby, noting the second day of the 2018 wrap party concluded early because of all the volunteer help. “That made it nice because we didn’t have delivery volunteers out late at night.”

Volunteers are also needed now to help select gifts from the stockpile the two women and their shopping helpers have accumulated over the last year. Shopping starts as soon as Christmas is over and retailers have closeout sales to move unsold merchandise.

Christmas for Kids started in 2006 when Kirby’s and Ford’s sister Amanda Pate Fessant set out to meet a need. Fessant thought it was important that every child have at least one gift to unwrap on Christmas morning.

When Fessant passed away the family honored her dying wish that Christmas for Kids continue. Marion Pate, mother of the three sisters, became executive director of Fessant’s HIS Ministry and oversaw Christmas for Kids from that role.

Pate passed away earlier this year and the family reorganized once again to keep the effort going. Kirby is executive director of Christmas for Kids and Ford is executive director for HIS Ministry, which is the umbrella organization for the gift giving charity.

The board of directors for the overall organization remained intact after Pate’s death, which has provided stability for the changes.

“We will continue to serve the local community through the ministry,” said Kirby.

Gifts provided to the younger children include toys and clothing. For junior and high school age students, gifts tend to be clothing, personal items for hygiene or ways to address self-esteem.

“We want the kids to have something in their interests that can promote physical activity, creative activity and family activity,” said Kirby.

Art supplies are a frequent request and sometimes parents ask for help with what many families might consider basic items like socks, underwear, bedding and blankets. Kirby said they have noticed an increase in requests for such basic items in the last few years.

In addition to people volunteering time, Christmas for Kids can use monetary donations at any time of the year. It is not too late to help with a cash gift because the shopping for 2020 begins as soon as the clearance sales start and continues all year. More information is available by contacting Kirby at 251-7250.

“This is a community effort,” said Kirby. “Without volunteers and donations we would not be able to do what we do. We are blessed with a generous community.”