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Family collects toys to bring kids holiday joy

The Olivers help local children with special needs have a happier Christmas

The Olivers help local children with special needs have a happier Christmas

December 15, 2006

Editor's Note: In this 12-part series that runs through Christmas Eve, The Herald-Mail highlights people and organizations who make the holidays brighter for others.




Name: Dale and Tara Oliver

Age: Dale, 34; Tara, 33

Home: Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Occupation: Dale is an officer with the Fairfax County, Va., Police Department; Tara is a stay-at-home mom and foster parent.

Organization: Holiday Helpers

What do you do to make Christmas brighter?The Olivers feel some of the large nationwide Christmas toy collection programs do a good job, but many times those toys do not come back to the local community. The Olivers decided to start Holiday Helpers three years ago to help local children with special needs have a happier Christmas. The Olivers collect toys, clothing, and arts and craft supplies for children and sometimes obtain gift wish lists from the kids. Among the entities which receive help from the Olivers are Children's Home Society of West Virginia in Martinsburg and Brook Lane Health Services in Hagerstown. Children at Children's Home Society of West Virginia are placed there for various reasons, sometimes because they are foster children or because they are homeless, the Olivers said. Brook Lane Health Services offers psychiatric help to children, and some children there are foster children and can be there for extended periods, according to the Olivers.

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Why do you do it?: The couple said their effort started as a result of a church study based on Rick Warren's book, "Better Together What on Earth are We Here For?"

How can others help?: Local residents can build up the toy inventory for Holiday Helpers by placing toys in collection boxes. The Olivers say they are grateful to businesses and organizations like Dollar General stores, Jefferson Security Bank, the Shepherdstown Fire Department, the Shepherdstown Police Department and Faith Christian Academy, which have allowed the Olivers to place toy collection boxes at their buildings.

What else?: The Olivers are the parents of five boys, and Tara said Holiday Helpers has helped the children understand the joy of giving.

"A lot of these children are right in our community. My children have learned from this a lot," Tara Oliver said.

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