Thanks to a local program, more than 2,100 Forsyth County children received Christmas presents they otherwise may not have.
Jerry Dupree, coordinator of the Forsyth County Family YMCA Holiday Giving Tree for Kids program, said the annual Christmas drive was a success.
“We provided everybody, including the waiting list, everybody with items, which is a good thing,” Dupree said. “It’s really good when you can help everybody that registered on time and everybody on the waiting list.”
Each year the event seeks individuals and organizations to sponsor children. They then shop for clothing, toys and other items, spending about $75 per child.
Other donations are also collected for children who may not get sponsors, so that every child can have something on Christmas morning.
Giving Tree works with Forsyth County Fire Department’s Aerial House program for additional toys for children in need.
“More than 50 percent of the children were sponsored by individuals or the schools, churches or other organizations this year,” Dupree said. “Then the remaining we did through the warehouse using what we receive from the fire department as far as the toys, and then clothing from other various sources.”
Dupree thanked the many residents and groups who helped with the program.
He said the Forsyth County school system was particularly generous, with “most all of the schools” participating by either sponsoring children or holding toy, gift card or money drives for the program.
“We also had a lot of volunteers at the warehouse, a lot of volunteers at the Y, so just a lot of collaboration,” he said, noting a big help was donated warehouse space where the excess donations are stored until families pick them up.
“That was huge. To go out and rent a place like that, I can’t even imagine what it might cost. It would be tens of thousands of dollars.”
Families who receive the gifts must apply to show they are truly in financial need. Dupree said they are typically grateful.
“One of the blessings of this whole program is to be able to see that joy and that appreciation in their faces,” he said. “There is such an appreciation of the parents that are helped.”
He said the gift-givers remain anonymous and no children are allowed to be present when the gifts are picked up.
“We keep it anonymous to maintain the integrity of the program, letting the parents deliver the gifts to the kids however they want to do, either from themselves or from Santa,” he said.
“We just want to make sure we provide something to those parents to provide to their children however they want to do it.”
This is the fourth year that the YMCA has overseen the program, which previously was handled by The Place of Forsyth County.
According to Dupree, the process goes more smoothly each year.
“Every year it just seems to be a little easier and a little easier,” he said. “Everybody is just so generous this time of year.
“Everybody just wants to pitch in somehow and it takes it all to make it work.”