Cheney Outreach stretched, so Christmas help steps in
When a family of four is living at or below the poverty level, paying rent and electricity bills becomes the top priority. Christmas presents are a luxury many can’t afford.
For the past several years, Cheney Outreach has been collecting toys for children in the city who otherwise wouldn’t get them. In a trying economic year, the organization has been busy writing and getting grants in order to give clients in financial straits $75 of emergency funds. The money can be used to help pay rent, utility or other bills that must be paid to make it until the next paycheck. It has been so busy at Cheney Outreach that there was a fear it would not be able to organize Christmas Gifts for Cheney Kids this year.
This was when Sally Shamp, a volunteer at Cheney Outreach and a member of the Cheney United Church of Christ, stepped in to organize the program. Cheney Outreach will still be able to distribute the toys, but is no longer organizing the collection.
“We can’t let it go,” Shamp said.
She’s been talking to service groups such as the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs. Her pastor, Debi Hasdorff, has been writing to the pastors of other churches in Cheney and calling them to see if they can help. Shamp is organizing volunteers, coordinating donors and finding places for drop-off boxes.
“Everyone says yes,” Shamp said.
Shamp is hoping to find presents for children from birth through age 18. This means dolls, Hot Wheels, games, puzzles, Legos, activity sets, stuffed animals, makeup or other items children might like to get for Christmas. Shamp has received donations of books from the Tree of Knowledge and 4-Ever Books, but can always use more.
Shamp is trying to plan for 200 children to get a gift or two.
The “Christmas Giving” boxes started appearing at locations this week such as Ben Franklin, the Copy Junction, Curves, banks and Owl Pharmacy. All toys collected will go to children in Cheney.
“I expect more places, but these are the ones continuing,” Shamp said.
Volunteers will pick up the last of the toys early Dec. 13 and sort them at Cheney UCC on Dec. 15. Parents will be able to get toys for their children Dec. 16.
Shamp has been surprised by the generosity of the community. She said that last year, Zumiez in NorthTown Mall donated enough coats for every teen who needed one, their parents, and then every Cheney Public Schools child in need of one.
She was also surprised at how many people are agreeing to donate or help.
“We’re a small enough town that it’s your neighbor that needs stuff,” she said.
Contact staff writer Lisa Leinberger at 459-5449 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.