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Will there be no gifts for Christmas?

Volunteers said a new non-profit is needed to organize an annual Christmas toy distribution in Stevens County. Stock photo from Pixabay

A group of volunteers who have organized the annual Salvation Army's Christmas Toy Shop each year need help. If they don't get it, there won't be a toy shop this year, the volunteers said.

The toy shop is an opportunity for eligible families to get Christmas toys for their children and several additional items.

Without the program, "The fact that kids probably wouldn't get a toy on Christmas morning...," volunteer Carol Wilcox said. "Many have (received) toys because of the program."

The community has been generous in donating cash toward the purchase of toys, most of which are bought locally. But, volunteers are getting older and fewer and they simply can't handle the responsibility of organizing the important program, four volunteers said during a recent interview with the Stevens County Times.

"We're looking for a non-profit to take it on," volunteer Verna Zeiher said.

Peggy Kill, a retired Central Minnesota Field Director with the Salvation Army, is a key piece of the program. Kill said she's willing to help any non-profit that can continue raising money, buying toys and distributing items each December. Kill

Kill said the non-profit group needs to have 501C3 status so that donations to the toy shop program can be tax deductible.

Stevens County Human Services is also willing to continue to help with the program, said human services employee Shanda Arbach.

"I know it's really appreciated by the participants," Arbach said of the toy shop program. Human services helps to determine families eligible for the toy shop program, Arbach said.

The program supplies a toy for children infant through 18. The families also receive a board game, stocking stuff, hats, mittens, gloves and scarves and one blanket or quilt per family.

The program also works with the Morris Women of Today's wish tree program which buys clothing for eligible children for Christmas.

The four volunteers stressed that with willing partners and a solid foundation of donors, a non-profit would get a lot of support as it takes over the toy shop program.

Interested non-profit groups should contact Kill at 589-4331 no later than Oct. 15.