FAIRMONT – Christmas stockings are already hanging up around Marion County.
However, to date, the stockings are of the paper variety. They have been colored in by people of Marion County who purchased them for $1 to help support the Marion County Christmas Toy Shop.
“I think all in all we’re off to a good start,” said Chad Norman, administrative assistant for Marion County Schools. “I’ve had several schools say they need more; White Hall, Jayenne they said they need more.”
The Christmas Toy Shop distribution event is just weeks away, and the planning committee is working to make sure all the preparations are in place to give every kid in need a Christmas this year.
The initiative’s leaders and Toy Shop volunteers met Wednesday at Fairmont State University to get an update on the work that still needs to be done prior to the Black Friday distribution event. One of the first goals is raising the money to fund the shop.
“Last year was $17,000,” said Butch Tennant, chair of the Christmas Toy Shop. “Most years, it’s $15,000, but it went to $17,000 last year.
“We’re probably 11, 12- thousand dollars away from our goal.”
Tennant said donations for the Toy Shop often flow in after the distribution event takes place, so the organization always has some funds from the previous year.
So far, there are about 129 kids signed up to benefit from the Christmas Toy Shop, according to Emily Brown, who is maintaining a spreadsheet of children who have been registered for the event while juggling her duties as emergency assistance coordinator for the Connecting Link. Registrations are made through the Board of Education office, which distributed forms in different schools for children to return for documentation.
“We’ve gotten 50 families for a total of 129 children, 66 males and 63 females so far,” Brown said. “We pick them up on Fridays, they are all on spreadsheets and they are all alphabetized.”
As registrations ramp up, the volunteers are trying to get funds collected and accounted for, and get volunteers trained on how to carry out their duties at the final distribution event.
Training for the volunteers of the Christmas Toy Shop takes place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Marion County Election Center. Tennant said this is where leaders assign volunteers a position to work at the Election Center where families will go to get their gifts.
At its last meeting, students from the three county high schools will be aiding in the purchasing of toys for the Toy Shop attended and learned more about how the Toy Shop benefits children.
“If anybody wants to come over and sit in on the training of what we do the day of Black Friday,” Tennant said. “They actually go over the whole process there.”
The distribution event will take place in the afternoon on Black Friday at the Marion County Election Center.
Residents who wish to donate to the Marion County Christmas Toy Shop can now come by The Times West Virginian office to drop off donations. The money will be collected by Toy Shop volunteers who count it and update the totals. The Times West Virginian will also list the names of donors who give $20 or more for the cause. Donors who wish to remain anonymous can indicate that on the donation form.