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Secret Santa program gearing up for December giveaway

Project helped close to 650 children in past

The Fahrenheit may still hit close to 100 these days, but already Christmas is on the minds of a few young professionals.

The Lawrence County Young Professionals, to be precise. For the past two holidays, the community-minded organization, affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce, has provided warm clothing and toys for youngsters in need in the county through its Secret Santa program.

And they want to do it again this season, but they will need help. Last year the Secret Santa program provided Christmas for close to 650 children.

“We would like to serve kids, but to do that we would have to have more volunteers to increase our capacity,” Massie Boster, a member of the LCYP, said.

Last week the group had its first meeting to start organizing this year’s Secret Santa.

“We had a preliminary meeting to line out our tasks and to start working on them,” Boster said. “There’s getting the names of the kids. It is always a huge undertaking to make sure people are not on multiple lists. Then there is fundraising and getting people to sponsor individual children and shop for them, which saves us a huge amount of time.”

Last year the young professionals were out at the crack of dawn on Black Friday, picking up as many sales they could.

“We may start a little earlier this year,” she said.

Names of children they will help come from the county Department of Job and Family Services, the Lawrence Economic Development Corp., the City Mission and the school systems.

“The hardest part was the cross referencing,” Boster said.

The program needs cash donations plus individuals who will take the name of a child or two and shop for those presents. Last year the group raised $12,000 in donations from individuals and area businesses.

“We also need somewhere to store gifts and have a distribution center that is secure,” she said.

Anyone wishing to help with the Secret Santa program should contact the young professionals at LCYPgroup@gmail.com or call the Chamber of Commerce at 377-4550.

Anyone wishing to make a donation can send a check made out to the Lawrence Economic Development Corp. to the chamber office at 216 Collins Ave., South Point, OH 45680.

Right now the young professionals have 20 members, but would like to recruit more. The requirements are that a member live and/or work in the county and be under 40 years of age. Membership is $40.

“The young professionals are always looking for new members, looking for companies to sponsor their employees and encourage their employees to join and maybe pay their dues for a year,” Boster said.

If employers are members of the chamber, they can get a $5 discount off the dues of each employee whom they sponsor.

“Our main challenge is reaching out to the community and letting them know they can join,” she said.