By Keith Gushard
CONNEAUT LAKE —
Carrie Nageotte never stops hoping area residents will make Christmas brighter for Crawford County children in need.
However, Nageotte, coordinator of the Toys for Tots program in Crawford County, is worried the program may not be able to keep up with the potential demand this year. Toys for Tots collects and distributes toys for needy families throughout the county who have children as old as age 16.
“It’s the economy,” Nageotte said of why she’s concerned for this year’s program.
“Last year, we helped more than 900 children from 486 families,” she said. “That’s elevated from 2011 when we had 380 families and more than 800 kids.”
The number of children in need should be known by the end of this week after signups for Toys for Tots are held, she said. Signups are slated this week in the lobby of Vantage Healthcare Network’s headquarters building, 1305 S. Main St., Meadville, on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Vantage is happy to provide support to the Toys for Tots program by hosting the signup and providing the program storage space, according to Mary Jo Hunter, the company’s chief operating officer.
“Jerry Alonge, our chief executive officer, has a great sense of caring for the community,” Hunter said. “We support health care, but we also want to support the enjoyment of Christmas, holidays and family; and Toys for Tots is part of that.”
Nageotte is grateful to the support from Vantage each year.
“They’re very gracious in letting us use their lobby and storage space,” Nageotte said. “Like us, they want to make sure kids are taken care of at Christmas.”
Though the Toys for Tots signups are held in Meadville, it is a countywide program serving children from all communities within Crawford County, she said.
While Toys for Tots collects and distributes toys for needy families for children as old as age 16, those families with children who are age 16 must have younger children as well, she said. Toys for Tots uses Department of Public Welfare guidelines to determine if a family is eligible for service, and families must sign a declaration form, she said.
“People shouldn’t be afraid to ask if they may be eligible,” Nageotte said. “People’s situations may change. They may have just been laid off and waiting on assistance. We don’t want to leave anybody behind.”
Nageotte said donation sites, where new unwraped toys for Toys for Tots may be dropped off, will be announced in early November. Toy donations will be collected until Dec. 20 so there is time to wrap and distribute the toys, Nageotte said.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can help
Tax-deductible donations for the Crawford County Toys for Tots program may be sent to Toys for Toys, 1305 S. Main St., Meadville, Pa. 16335.
Registration for the Crawford County Toys for Tots program is Monday through Friday this week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the lobby at Vantage Healthcare Network’s headquarters, 1305 S. Main St., Meadville.
Toys for Tots uses Department of Public Welfare guidelines to determine if a family is eligible for service. Registration requires a valid photo identification card; proof of address such as a utility bill; and each child’s insurance card.
-More information: Contact Carrie Nageotte, Crawford County Toys for Tots coordinator, at 282-5876.