The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

November 24, 2013

Fayette Toy Fund seeking volunteers

OAK HILL — For more than three decades, Fayette County children have been delighted at Christmas time by a small group of people — at times, only a handful — doing their best to make sure there are plenty of smiles to go around on Christmas morning.

The Fayette Toy Fund was started by a Mount Hope woman — Kathryn Lancianese — who couldn’t bear to see sad looks on the faces of disappointed children whose parents couldn’t afford a Christmas gift. Today’s incarnation is operated as a gift to the community from the members of the Oak Hill Rotary Club.

“We’ve been doing it for about four years now,” said Susan Ingram, a club member who helps organize the Toy Fund and its Christmas party, set this year for 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 21 at the Lewis Community Foundation Christian Community Center.

“We think of it as one of our best projects that we’ve taken on,” she said.

That’s saying a lot for a group whose motto is “Service Above Self.”

Working with the Fayette County office of the Department of Health and Human Resources, the Toy Fund organizers identify the children who are invited to the party.

In years past, the Toy Fund party seemed to become a bit overwhelming for some of the children with tables and tables of toys spread out from which to choose, so for the 2013 party, things are being done a little differently, she pointed out.

“We’ll still have Santa and still give them gifts and a stocking and treats,” she said, “but this year we’ve asked the DHHR to send out applications to the children, asking them what they would like for Christmas.”

From those responses, Rotary Club members will shop to fit the need.

“It’s going to be a big undertaking, but that’s what we want to do,” Ingram said, pausing to thank those individuals who have no ties to the club who help with the party each year.

“If it wasn’t for the volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do it,” she said. “We have groups and companies that will make stockings for us, or stuff the stockings. Hamilton Burgess (Fayetteville law firm Hamilton, Burgess, Young & Pollard) stuffs 100 stockings for us every year.”

Volunteers always are welcome, she stressed, adding the need may be even greater this year.

“I think our biggest need is going to be for the two days, Thursday (Dec. 19) and Friday (Dec. 20), leading up to the party when we’re bagging the toys.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer to bag the gifts or to help in some other manner may contact Ingram at 304-731-5448 or 304-929-6210.

As in past years, donations of new, unwrapped toys are welcome, as are financial donations. Monetary donations may be sent to Fayette Toy Fund, c/o Oak Hill Rotary Club, PO Box 154, Oak Hill, WV 25901.

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