Elves busy making Christmas special for 1,000 families

Published: November 29, 2006 | 5101st good news item since 2003

A group of four nonprofit organizations, along with Havertys Fine Furniture, have bonded together to make sure families and children in the area have reason to celebrate during the holidays.

Known collectively as the Elf Coalition, the group is made up of the Salvation Army, Buckner Child and Family Services, Marine Corps League (Toys for Tots), Newgate Mission and the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission. The elves are helping families or children in different ways.

“We make sure each family has everything they need for a Christmas dinner,” said Maj. Robert Winters of the Salvation Army. The coalition plans to assist 1,000 families this year and possibly a few more, he said.

The agencies use a family’s financial need as the requirement for getting help.

“We look at income and expenses, and ask people to bring in pay stubs and bills,” Winters said. The Salvation Army then uses a chart to look at income guidelines to make sure people make the correct amount of income and have the family size that meets that requirement, he said.

“Our main goal is to make Christmas right for kids, and make sure they are taken care of,” Winters said.

At Havertys, Waynell Kuhlman, volunteer co-coordinator, spoke excitedly about the 500 children on the store’s angel tree.

“It’s decorated with stockings, and each stocking has the name of a child,” Kuhlman said.

She explained as names are taken off the tree, more are put on, because there is no room for all 500 at once. Havertys concentrates on toys and clothing for children, and parents are referred by counselors at Longview-area schools. Kuhlman said about 700 children were helped by the tree last year.

“People can help in several different ways,” Kuhlman said.

Although monetary donations are always welcome, volunteers are needed to bring gifts to the store and take presents to the children.

“We start delivering the gifts on Dec. 20, and everyone has a lot of fun — we give them all a Santa hat,” she said.

Kuhlman said each organization in the Elf Coalition keeps a copy of a master list of the children or families who have qualified for holiday help.

“We keep track of who is on the master list, and ask people to sign a form stating that they will ask only one organization for help,” said Kuhlman.

Published in Charity, Life
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