• 54°

Domestic Violence Task Force collecting toys for needy children

For many children, it doesn't matter how many wish lists they make -- toys will be a scarce commodity under their Christmas tree.

The Lawrence County Domestic Violence Task Force is collecting toys for needy children, both those who have used the shelter with a parent and those in the community who have been referred for help by other social service agencies.

"It may be the only toy they get," Task Force Director Ruth Anne Delong said. "This is about giving to a child and making that child feel special, making them feel that Santa is out there watching."

The task force hands out toys each year to approximately 350 school-aged children.

Delong said she hopes area churches and civic groups will heed the call and get involved in the toy drive. This year, the need for new sources of donations is more critical than ever as the Task Force will not get any Toys for Tots donations. The Ohio Attorney General's Office has ended its practice of participating in that program. In previous years, Toys for Tots donations from that state office were funneled to domestic violence shelters throughout Ohio.

"But, some of the churches have stepped up to the plate and helped us," Delong said. "They've been wonderful."

Other donations of toys and cash have come from private citizens.

The toys will be available for pick up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 20 at the rear entry of the Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency Office on Park Avenue. Delong said families must provide a picture identification. There will be refreshments as well.

Those who do not have affiliation with the domestic violence shelter may be referred to get a toy through their minister, school officials or through other local assistance groups, she said.

"This networking prevents duplication and ensures that as many children as possible get a Christmas gift," Delong said.

Delong said her office will also accept donations of gift wrap and food for holiday food baskets. Each Christmas and Thanksgiving, two families that have suffered from domestic violence in the previous year are selected to receive food baskets from the shelter.

To make donations to the shelter, call 532-7111.