Shirley Pritchett, co-manager of Calhoun Foods and Ray McGill, manager, arrange and prepare for gifts coming in for the Toys for Tots drive going on now until Saturday. People can drop off gifts and monetary donations each day from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. -- Sarah Cook

Toys for Tots and Calhoun Foods, gathering gifts

Published 7:35pm Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Although the 25th is drawing near, it’s not too late to make a difference in a child’s Christmas and brighten their day with an unexpected present.

The Selma-Dallas Youth Ambassadors, in partnership with Calhoun foods, is hosting their annual Toys for Tots program through Saturday. The program, spearheaded by the Youth Ambassadors and Ward 7 representative Bennie Ruth Crenshaw, collects toys and monetary donations each year for less fortunate families in the area.

“We’ve partnered with Calhoun’s in doing this project for about 10 years,” said Crenshaw. “As the advisor, I find it very important because with the unemployment rate being very high in Selma and Dallas County, many children will not have a Christmas unless we all join hands and help those in need.”

Through Saturday during times between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., residents can drop off gifts or donations at Calhoun Foods. Crenshaw said these items will be distributed in Ward 7 first and then to the rest of the city.

Recipients are chosen by criteria of family size and income, she said.

“We try to pick a single parent with more than three children,” Creshnshaw said of the criteria. “Also, large families with seven children or more often receive the gifts.”

The Youth Ambassadors, comprised of students from Meadowview Christian School and Selma High School, also identify families who may not be able to purchase Christmas gifts for their children.

“People think that it’s so automatic, that kids automatically get something [for Christmas] — that’s not true,” Crenshaw said. “I’ve met so many households where parents, they just don’t have the means. They have enough to pay for the necessities and that’s it.”

For ages three through 10, Crenshaw is asking that residents donate new toys, like a basketball or doll. For older children, monetary donations are preferred.

“Sometimes [older children] will get toys, but they don’t have shoes,” Crenshaw said. “We want to make sure those basic needs are covered first.”

Since the program seems to be a success every year, Crenshaw said she extends a large thank you to all of the residents who donate to it.

“This is the reason for the season,” she said. “We want to thank everyone who participates because it makes a very special Christmas for a young girl or boy.”

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