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Toy Mission work begins long before holiday season arrives

October 19, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - For hundreds of families in Franklin County, the time to start making a list and checking it twice is now.

Chambersburg Toy Mission volunteers already are at work cleaning and repairing used toys and taking in donations of new toys for distribution to needy families in December, according to Executive Director H. Juanita Welker.

"We're now accepting requests from families who need assistance with their Christmas shopping," said Welker. The completed forms must be postmarked by Dec. 1 and mailed to Chambersburg Toy Mission, P.O. Box 137, Chambersburg, PA 17201.

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The sooner families pick up applications and fill them out, the better, Welker said. The mission is more likely to be able to fill a request if it comes in early, she said.

"The first day we opened, which was the last Tuesday in September, we had our first request in and we packed 12 orders today," Welker said last Tuesday. "They can't wait until the last minute to get their order in."

"One child wanted a mountain bike and we gave him the closest thing to it," she said.

Not every request for a gift can be fulfilled because of the cost and other factors, Welker said.

Last Tuesday, 32 volunteers were working to fill orders, including a father and daughter, she said.

"His grandmother started here and she brought him in years ago and now he's got his child in here," she said of the father. The Toy Mission began after World War II and has been in operation nearly 60 years, she said.

The mission has a pool of approximately 100 volunteers, ranging from children to senior citizens, she said. More volunteers are welcome, she said.

Last year the mission delivered toys to 794 children ages 12 and younger, Welker said.

Donations of used and new toys may be delivered to the Toy Mission building at 204 Lincoln Way West between noon and 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Welker said. Financial contributions also are welcome, she said.

Welker said Letterkenny Army Depot employees have played a large role in the mission's work over the years, hosting an annual toy drive and distributing gift packages to children.

The gift packages will be delivered Dec. 11 to 13, she said.

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