Feed A Family, Toys for Kids gearing up for holidays
ALPENA — Families in need will receive a full Thanksgiving meal, and will have presents for their children come Christmas, thanks to the annual Feed A Family and Toys for Kids programs, sponsored by Vietnam Veterans of America 583 in Alpena.
In order for the annual programs to be successful, they depend on generous community members, businesses, and organizations to donate and deliver meals, as well as toys, wrapping paper, and volunteers to wrap gifts for the kids.
“We are in need of nonperishable food items,” said Tammy Kish, coordinator and fundraiser for both VVA 583 programs.
Kish said the families will receive a turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, vegetables, fruit, pie-making ingredients, and all the fixings for a nice Thanksgiving meal.
“Then we give them a little bit extra,” she said. “Shelf items that are extra. We throw those in the box as well.”
Kish said families who will receive a Thanksgiving meal box have been identified by social workers, schools, churches, and other referrals from community members and organizations.
“Some do, and some do not know they are getting the meals,” Kish added.
She said the program feeds about 500 families annually.
Thanksgiving meal sign-up for Feed A Family is open through Nov. 16. To sign up, call Judy at 989-358-9085 by 5 p.m. Delivery of the food will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, and Sunday, Nov. 20. Delivery drivers are needed, as well as nonperishable food donations. Donations can be dropped off seven days a week at 2005 U.S.-23 South in the Thunder Bay Shopping Center next to the old Neiman’s Family Market building. If you have questions, call Kish at 989-464-5588.
Operation Holidays Toys for Kids has been serving the Alpena community for 32 years, Kish said. Their motto is “No Child Left Behind,” and they provide Christmas gifts to children and teens. Donations of new unwrapped toys, hats, gloves, puzzles, games, stocking stuffers, crayons, coloring books, craft items, and books are accepted at the center between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily. Monetary donations are always accepted as well.
She said newborn toys, toys for girls ages 8 and up, and items for teens are most needed at this time.
“We are in need of wrapping paper and tape, and groups to come in and help wrap,” Kish added. “It’s going to be a short wrapping season this year, so we are really going to need the help to get it done.”
Open wrapping starts Dec. 1. If you would like to set up a time to wrap presents, or if you have questions about Toys for Kids, call Kish at 989-464-5588. The cutoff for Christmas sign-up is 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 14. To sign up, call Judy at 989-358-9085. Toys for Kids deliveries will be made Dec. 10 and 11, and Dec. 17 and 18. Delivery drivers are needed for Christmas delivery as well.
She said the gift recipients remain confidential.
“Nobody knows who they’re wrapping for,” she assured. “Our wrappers know they’re wrapping for a boy, age 8, and so on.”
She said Toys for Kids provides gifts for over 2,000 children and teens.
“It varies from year to year,” Kish said. “Sometimes, it’s up to 3,000.”
The VVA 583 Operation Holidays programs serve families in Alpena, Alcona, Presque Isle, and Montmorency counties.
“We’re just very grateful for the community,” Kish said. “We’re the vessel, but it’s the community that makes our program work. Their donations, them giving us the time and bringing in items. They’re the ones who make our program work.