DHHS helps bring Christmas to Lake County

Christmas for Kids returns

BALDWIN — The Christmas season is a time of giving and that may be best exemplified through the Department of Health and Human Services' Christmas for Kids program.

Each year, the program gives parents who take part in DHHS programs to shop for their children free of charge from a wide selection of items donated by the public or purchased by DHHS volunteers.

"Times are still hard for a lot of people and this is the local community helping the local community," remarked Dawn Locke, the Lake County DHHS community resource coordinator. "All of our funds and donations come from within Lake County and all of it will go back out into Lake County."

Christmas for Kids will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10, and from 9 a.m. until noon on Friday, Dec. 11, with a make up day from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at the Baldwin Assembly of God Church in Baldwin.

The program serves approximately 600 kids each year, giving them a chance at a merry Christmas when they might never have gotten otherwise. Parents can take home a variety of items so each child can get presents during the holiday season. This includes one toy or game, one outfit or coat, three stocking-stuffers, six books, one pack of underwear, one package of socks and one hat, scarf or pair of mittens.

"All DHHS clients are invited and people who are in need are welcome to apply at DHHS so they can join in," said Locke. "The goal is to make sure every child can has presents waiting under the tree for them on Christmas morning."

Those attending Christmas for Kids say the program provides opportunities they are very thankful for.

"This helps families who really need it and lets them give their kids a Christmas," said shopper Alicia McCarthy. "Every child should be able to wake up to find something under the tree."

Volunteer Eloise Wilson has been helping with the program for almost 20 years. She stressed how important Christmas for Kids is to some families.

"This has serviced so many people within the county and made their Christmas much better," remarked Wilson. "I love getting to help people here."

Volunteers and shoppers all agree Christmas for Kids has become an integral part of Lake County's Christmas.

"The spirit of Santa and of Christmas itself lives in the people of Baldwin, and their willingness to give to the children of Lake County," said event organizer Sue Brown-Havens.