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Helping Hands toy distribution brings Christmas to kids in need

(ROCKWALL, TX—December 21, 2017) On Saturday, December 16 Helping Hands of Rockwall County wrapped up their Christmas gift to the community: the annual toy drive.

After distributing “toy tags” for specific age categories throughout local businesses, the Helping Hands team accepted donations from community members through December 12. They then arranged the toys by age and gender in the RISD Administration Building gymnasium for distribution day on December 16.

Helping Hands Director of Assistance & Referral Tarren Oswald said that about 750 children were served on distribution day, and over 800 total kids will receive toys by the end of this week. Each child went home with four toys and two stocking stuffers.

“The Christmas toy distribution is a special program to help alleviate the worry that a parent feels when they are not financially able to provide gifts at Christmas,” Oswald said. “This program ensures that these children will receive gifts under the tree on Christmas morning.”

Oswald said about 110 volunteers helped make the toy distribution happen this year.

“Dallas Tigers East, a boys select baseball team, volunteered with their parents,” Oswald said. “A few members of the Rockwall-Heath football team helped carry toys out to cars. Generations Church gave a turkey to each family at the toy distribution.”

Oswald said Helping Hands Community Circle and Helping Hands Teen Board also contributed their time to make sure each family could collect their toys smoothly.

Helping Hands President and CEO Jon Bailey stressed the importance of community support in making this year’s toy drive a success.

“Rockwall Helping Hands keeps our operational costs down due to the number of volunteers we have willing to help at events like our toy drive,” Bailey said. “Hundreds of man hours went into pulling off this event last week. We couldn’t have served the number of families and children we did, no matter how many toys were donated, if we didn’t have the community volunteers willing to give of their time to help pick up and deliver toys, sort them and work through the week and day of distribution.”

Helping Hands Director of Events & Marketing Tiffany Olson said echoed his sentiments, saying she too was grateful for the support from donations and volunteers

“The generosity of Rockwall this year just blows me away,” Olson said. “Living in such a civic minded community is such a blessing and a wonderful sight to see this time of year. Working for Helping Hands and being a conduit for the Rockwall community’s giving ability is the reason we work here.”

Olson said that Rockwall County Helping Hands was started 41 years ago by a group of volunteers that gathered items for Christmas for needy children in the area.

“In essence, the toy drive is the founding mission of Helping Hands,” Olson said.

After such a successful weekend meeting a major community need, Oswald said she simply wanted to extend her thanks.

“All of this was possible because our generous community,” Oswald said. “Thank you to all of those who displayed our toy tags, donated a toy, helped set up and volunteered on distribution day. There will be many smiling faces on Christmas morning because of you.”

By Julie Anne Wells, Blue Ribbon News. Photos by BRN Media.

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