By Cheril Vernon
Messenger Copy Editor
CROCKETT – For many local families, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales don’t matter much. The time of year doesn’t change the fact these families live paycheck to paycheck, and the money will only stretch so far. This makes paying their bills and putting food on the table for their children the most important thing they do.
In order to help local families in need, the annual Houston County S.H.A.R.E. Stuff The Bus Toy Drive will be held from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 in front of Walmart.
“There are so many families in need. It’s grown every year. It gets bigger and bigger. There are families that struggle from day to day, verified by S.H.A.R.E., who come in to get food and clothing, who are struggling to put a meal on the table and simply can’t afford to buy gifts for Christmas. Every child deserves to have something wrapped under the tree,” toy drive co-coordinator Butch Calvert told The Messenger Monday, Nov. 27.
Santa Claus will make an appearance during the day to take pictures with the kids, and the Crockett Fire Department will be out part of the day with a fire truck.
“We did the ‘Stuff the Bus’ event for the first time last year and we are hoping a lot of people will come out to help us,” Calvert said.
In 2016, the S.H.A.R.E. Toy Drive provided Christmas gifts for 669 children ages birth to age 13 for more than 250 families, Calvert said.
“This is the fourth year my wife Kathi and I have coordinated the (S.H.A.R.E.) toy store. We started in 2014 with just 250 kids. I estimate this year it will be close to 700, if not above that this year,” Calvert said.
The goal of the toy drive is to get every child a gift in the $20 to $25 range, Calvert said.
“For toddlers, things like larger toy trucks, large duplex building block sets, toy vacuum cleaners, sit-on scooters, any kind of construction sets or Legos™ make good gifts,” Calvert said. “For older kids, things like head phones, bluetooth speakers or razor scooters are good.”
The toy drive also will take stocking stuffer items such as crayons, art supplies, play dough, gloves, hats, etc.
“We want to be able to give each child one good primary toy. For a lot of these kids this may be the only toy under the tree,” Calvert said.
The S.H.A.R.E. clients whose children will receive Christmas gifts through the toy drive will be allowed to pick the toy from the S.H.A.R.E. toy store.
“They don’t get a random toy for their child – they get to pick something that will be appropriate for their child so they can have some ownership in that, and we send it home with them to wrap. It’s more of a hand-up than a hand-out,” Calvert said.
Though the “Stuff the Bus Toy Drive” will be held this Saturday, Dec. 2, the toy drive will continue through Friday, Dec. 22.
Unwrapped toys or donations can be dropped off at Houston County S.H.A.R.E., located at 207 8th St. in Crockett whenever it is open. The S.H.A.R.E. toy store is open from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Other drop-off locations include Crockett Dental Clinic, KIVY, Houston County Electric Coop, Crockett Fire Department, The Messenger and the Houston County Courier.
“If a person wants to write a check for a donation, make sure you note it’s for the toy drive,” Calvert said.
All monetary donations are tax-deductible.
“We also will be holding smaller ‘Stuff the Bus’ events at Family Dollar and Dollar General locations,” Calvert said.
Here is a schedule of “Stuff the Bus” events at Family Dollar and Dollar General stores:
• Saturday, Dec. 9 – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Family Dollar, 1004 E. Loop 304 in Crockett
• Saturday, Dec. 9 – 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Family Dollar, 303 Hwy. 7 in Kennard
• Saturday, Dec. 16 – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Dollar General, 300 N. 4th St. in Crockett next to Brookshire Brothers.
• Saturday, Dec. 16 – 1 to 3 p.m., Dollar General, 1025 E. Loop 304 in Crockett next to HEB.