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Reaching 250

In its second year, Community Christmas aims to serve as many families as possible

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Sarah Hatley, the cordinaor for the Community Christmas program, tries out two of the donated toys for this year’s drive at the AFES building Friday. The program has a goal of serving 250 children this year.

Last year’s Community Christmas turned out to be a success.

Under the leadership of Athletics For Education and Success, the program, formerly Operation Christmas, served more than 250 children in the community.

This is the second year AFES has volunteered to run the program.

Community Christmas Coordinator Sarah Hatley is gearing up for this year’s effort to provide toys, clothing and food to children and families in need.

“Last year we served 256 kids,” she said. “Our goal was 250. This year, our goal is also 250.”

Charles Clayton, AFES executive director, was happy with last year’s result.

“I thought it ran very smoothly; it went well,” he said.

Clayton said that they would like donors to sign up to buy gifts and clothing for a specific family that the donor “adopts.”

“This way we can tailor donations to a specific child and family,” he said. “We will provide the donor with a list of ages, sizes and other needs.”

He said they’re unable to accept any used items and are asking donors to sign up rather than simply dropping off donations.

This method worked well last year. He said most of the AFES basketball parents adopted families.

AFES, he said, will provide the food donations, and local churches donate paper goods.

“As an example,” Clayton said. “You have an 8-year-old girl. The donor will buy one toy and one outfit. Then AFES adds another toy so they each get two.”

Clayton and Hatley both agree the program is an excellent opportunity for both families and local businesses.

“They can even have their child pick out the clothes and toy,” Hatley said. “It lets families work together to help another family.”

“We’ve had businesses donate as well,” Clayton said.

AFES is also accepting monetary donations for the Community Christmas program.

Checks may be mailed to AFES, 712 Third St. N.W., Fort Dodge, IA 50501. Clayton said checks should be made out to AFES with “Community Christmas” written on the memo line.

For families who wish to apply for the program, applications will be taken on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m. on both days. Applications will be accepted until 250 have been submitted.

The deadline for donations is Dec. 16.

Distribution will take place on Dec. 21 from noon until 3 p.m. at the AFES building.