BALDWIN — The Christmas holiday has been made easier for local struggling families, thanks to the Christmas for Kids program, organized by Michigan Department for Health and Human Services and a host of volunteers.

This year, 431 children were signed up, with 203 families being served in Lake County.

AMVETS Post No. 1988 was filled with tables piled with gift items to choose from. Each recipient was provided a toy or primary gift, an outfit, a stocking stuffer, a book, hat/mittens, socks and underwear and a blanket. Eligible families, who receive some kind of assistance, were able to select the gifts Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, said Heather McMullen, head of logistics for the event.

“Heather does an amazing job setting up tables, arranging the event through AMVETS, coordinating with volunteers and overseeing food for volunteers and many other details that make this a success,” said Dawn Locke, event coordinator and DHHS staff. “We identify clients who are getting assistance and send out letters of invitation. All donations go through our agency’s county office.”

To prepare for the event is a year-round effort, Locke said.

“We shop year-round and we start an inventory as soon as we pack up items after each year’s event. I write grants and have to provide a wrap-up of the event for grant requirements. We reach out to donor volunteers the first week of October and get boxes out the first week of November,” she said. “This is our second year hosting the event at AMVETS, which is a great location with lots of space, good parking and easy access for carts.”

Locke said all the volunteers make the event possible.