September 17, 2014

Standish Kiwanis Club receiving hundreds of requests for “Christmas for Kids” program

By Jeff Patrus|Staff Writer
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ARENAC COUNTY — The chairperson of the Standish Kiwanis Club’s “Christmas for Kids” program says the club has already received plenty of requests from needy families for toys for their children this Christmas.

Jeri Harris said last year, the program served more than 600 area children. This year, she said about 493 children, as of Nov. 17, had been registered for the program, which has a registration deadline of Nov. 20.

She said the Standish Kiwanis Club has been running the program for 35 years, and is doing so again this year in conjunction with the Arenac County Department of Human Services. Harris said families are eligible if they take part in the DHS food program and added those families get a registration form through the mail, then return it to the DHS Arenac office, which then passes it on to volunteers for the Christmas for Kids program.

According to Harris, the economic downturn has been taking its toll on the charitable program.

"It's been horrific. We are down probably 30 to 40 percent in donations that we normally get. We're doing everything we can to raise money." She said

She said volunteers start shopping for children in the program the day after Thanksgiving and that businesses can also pitch in.

“We are absolutely looking for donations, if businesses would like to donate toy boxes,” Harris said.

Harris also said several volunteers from throughout the community pitch in to help make the program a reality.

“There are teachers from Standish-Sterling and AuGres, members of the Chamber of Commerce, plus my Kiwanians all pitch in, as well as National Honor Society members,” she said. “We could have 70 to 80 volunteers. It’s a big operation.”

She added the Standish branch of the Knights of Columbus has agreed to donate its hall for four days in December so the Club may use it to organize Christmas gifts for the program.

In order to raise money to buy gifts for the program, Harris said the club has sponsored several fundraisers this year, including a golf outing and a raffle. In addition, she said several more fundraisers are in the works for next year.

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