Christmas for the Needy works to replace damaged toys

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Keuka College students helped clean out the basement of the Once Again Shoppe building on East Elm Street where all the toys had been stored, but many items were damaged beyond salvation.

Recent flooding in Yates County has produced more casualties. The stock of new toys, stored in the basement of the Once Again Shoppe on East Elm Street has been heavily damaged. Long time Christmas For The Needy board member, Sandy Carlson, who along with co-chairman Fran Willis are in charge of purchasing toys, games, and sporting goods, report a loss between $10,000 and $20,000 in inventory. Final figures could make the loss even higher, and Carlson says they are still working to understand the total number of toys lost.

Carlson says a toy drive recently held in Rochester netted 1,500 toys which will be kept in Rochester until space is available here for safe storage.

Many items lost were valued at $20 or more, but purchased for less at post-holiday sales. Replacement of these items will be more costly because shoppers will have to shop non-sale prices.

One of the policies of Yates County Christmas For The Needy is to provide each child with a new gift of near equal value. Toys, games, or sporting goods of lesser value are set up in a different area requiring extra space, tables, and volunteers, and to not qualify as an equal value gift, meaning shoppers must purchase more gifts of equal value.

Health regulations and the program’s policy does not permit the organization to give out as new any item touched by flood water, or not in undamaged original packaging.

Anyone wishing to help replace equal value toys (those whose values is $20 or above) may send a tax deductible check made payable to Yates County Christmas For The Needy, P.O. Box 145, Penn Yan, NY 14527.

Each year, in addition to a set of new clothing and underwear, Christmas For The Needy makes available gently used children’s and adult’s clothing, coats, boots, and toys.

As many people store out of season clothing in basements or storage sheds hit hard by the flooding, the need for fall/winter weight clothing will be greater than usual this year.

This summer, as you clear out outgrown or unused children’s clothing in preparation for back to school shopping, keep Christmas For The Needy in mind. Donations of clean, gently used school clothes, coats, boots, and sleepwear are particularly needed.

“We will also be glad to accept men’s and women’s clothing and coats, especially in large and extra large sizes,” adds Mickie Christiansen, spokesperson for the organization.

Clothing may be dropped off Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon at the First Presbyterian Church, 211 Main St. Donors are asked to notify the church office that they are leaving items for Christmas For The Needy, so there is no confusion as to their destination.

Due to changing styles and need, knitters and crocheters are asked to make hats and mittens as sets. Christiansen says there is no need for either boys or girls sizes larger than a medium. Last year, hand knit or crocheted scarves were very popular, especially if they coordinated with the hats and mittens sets. Adult length scarves were also well received.

Anyone who has large quantities of the same color yarn leftover from their own projects, may donate them by contacting Christiansen at 315-536-6345. If you would be interested in knitting or crocheting afghans or lap robes, yarn can be provided.

Christmas For The Needy still tries to provide handmade quilts to each family. However, some quilters have retired and/or moved away. If you have basic sewing skills or can cut out fabric squares, your help would be appreciated. Contact Joann Drewno at 315-536-7270 to volunteer or to donate materials.

It takes many people to shop, sew, knit, crochet, quilt, and plan the annual Christmas program. If you haven’t yet found an area where you can help, find the group at the Penn Yan Sidewalk Sale Saturday, July 26 to learn more about the program and its needs.

Former volunteers return each year to lend a helping hand and many can boast of 10, 15, 20 or more years service. “We would love to have you as a volunteer,” adds Christiansen.

To Help

What: Christmas for the Needy Toy Drive

Give: Donate to Yates County Christmas for the Needy, P.O. Box 145, Penn Yan, N.Y. 14527

Volunteer: Contact Sandy Carlson at 315-536-8453  or Fran Willis at 607-243-5941 to help with toys

Contact Joann Drewno at 315-536-7270 to help with quilting.

Contact Mickie Christiansen to donate yarn or knitting.

To Help Christmas for the Needy Toy Drive