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Community Christmas Toy Store

November 17, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- Santa needs some helpers.

The Community Christmas Toy Store (CCTS), a non-profit organization formed to provide Christmas gifts for low-income families in the Brandon School District, is seeking donations of toys, books, games and more to make sure that all area children have presents to open this holiday season. Cash donations are also welcomed and will be used to purchase gifts for children who might otherwise go without.

"There has been an increasing need for our help as more and more people have become unemployed," said Betty Stewart, CCTS president. "Many who lost their jobs in the past still have not found work... Many of these families live in the Brandon School District and have children. These are the children we are going to help this Christmas, plus one-parent families where there is not enough income to buy presents, the working poor."

This is the inaugural year of the Community Christmas Toy Store. In previous years, the Ortonville Community Emergency Fund collected and distributed toys for families in need in the district, but due to a change in tax laws and because the focus of OCEF is feeding the needy, the CCTS has been created to focus on gifts for children at Christmas.

Other than the name change, donors and clients shouldn't see a noticeable difference in operations. OCEF will still provide CCTS volunteers with the names of families needing assistance and toy sorting and distribution will still take place from St. Anne Church, 825 S. Ortonville Road.

Donors can drop off toys at St. Anne, as well as several other churches, local businesses, and schools and the donations will be collected by the Brandon Fire Department and taken to St. Anne Dec. 10 for distribution to clients the following day.

CCTS provides toys for boys and girls from newborn to 12-years-old, but particularly need donations for children between 6 and 12.

"Somehow the older kids always get shorted," said Stewart. "It's easy to buy toys for babies, but the older kids need games, toys and books, too."

CCTS expects to help more than 300 kids have Christmas gifts this season. Stewart said that volunteering last year as a table captain for hats and mittens at the toy distribution was one of the best experiences of her life. CCTS will organize a hall at St. Anne to resemble an actual toy store, at which parents will select gifts for their children.

"You just come home with a glow," she said. "You've helped make 300 kids happy at Christmas and you know you've made a difference."

The number of toys each child receives from CCTS will depend on the number of toys collected and the amount of monetary donations.

The Ortonville United Methodist Women have planned an event to help the Community Christmas Toy Store. "An Evening of Toys and Storytelling" will start at 5 p.m., Dec. 5, at the Ortonville United Methoidst Church, 93 Church St. in Ortonville.

Linda Weathers, a member of OUMW, said there will be at least seven or eight stories told, some acted out, and some with musical accompaniment. The stories will include "Barrington Bunny," "The Night Before Christmas," "Seven Little Rabbits," and "The Real Story of the Three Little Pigs." The stories will be followed by a kid-friendly dinner of corn dogs or hot dogs, chips, carrot and celery sticks, and cookies and milk. All ages are welcome. The nursery will be open for infants. Admission to the event is a toy or monetary donation to the Community Christmas Toy Store. Please call for reservations. Details: 248-627-3125.

To make a monetary donation, write a check payable to the Christmas Community Toy Store and mail to P.O. Box 733, Ortonville, MI 48462. Details: Betty Stewart at 248-627-3324.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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