Partnerships helping children receive toys, clothes

Trena Dacal

United Way of Southern West Virginia serves an engaged community that is compassionate and adaptable. Similar to communities around the nation, there are families who find themselves in need for many different reasons and at all times throughout the year. Winter in West Virginia can be especially difficult for families on a limited budget. Increased household expenses throughout the winter can create additional financial stress to families who survive on tight budgets. Many families simply cannot accommodate the cost of Christmas gifts.

Ninety years ago, during the Great Depression, Ted McDowell, the editor of the Beckley Post-Herald, encouraged readers to give toys for children who were not likely to receive Christmas presents. Mac’s Toy Fund is a Christmas tradition for the Beckley area and has provided a toy fund every year since 1930.

This year, with the issues surrounding the pandemic, representatives of Mac’s Toy Fund were aware that a party with hundreds of attendees and volunteers would not be possible. Mac’s Toy Fund offered grants to other nonprofits in the community who support children, so smaller events could take place and provide Christmas gifts for children in need. United Way is proud to have received a grant through Mac’s Toy Fund and proud to partner with MountainHeart Community Services to provide gifts for children in Raleigh County.

At United Way of Southern West Virginia, we are aware of the challenges families face when funds are not available for proper fitting shoes and clothing. The grant received from Mac’s Toy Fund will allow us to purchase new athletic shoes for approximately 150 children. Through our partnership with MountainHeart Community Services Child Care Resource and Referral Program and the generosity of Mac’s Toy Fund, eligible children will also receive toys, clothing, and art materials. MountainHeart will determine eligibility for assistance and provide a safe drive-through service for delivery of wrapped gifts.

The generous and loyal donors to Mac’s Toy Fund have improved the lives of thousands of Raleigh County children and their families over the holidays. We at United Way are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Mac’s and MountainHeart to carry on the tradition of giving. This is one example of the potential for making connections and mobilizing the caring power of our community that United Way models in southern West Virginia.

Issues surrounding the pandemic have created a greater need, evident by the 600 percent increase in calls for assistance to our 211 Information and Referral Hotline. Those issues have also created incredible challenges to addressing that need. Traditional fundraising events where supporters come together for a common cause are not possible and nonprofits are stretched thin in ways never before seen. Now more than ever, the generosity of our community and partnerships to provide for our neighbors is essential.

United Way identifies the most critical needs of our community and works tirelessly to address those needs, partnering with agencies that provide services or creating direct services when necessary. Please consider joining us in living, giving, and leading UNITED!

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Contributions to United Way can be made by mailing a check directly to United Way of Southern West Virginia, PO Box 5456, Beckley, WV 25801, giving securely at or calling directly to 304-253-2111.

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