Merced area groups pitch in to help kids at Christmas

12/11/2013 7:38 PM

12/11/2013 11:43 PM

Several Merced business and service organizations rallied Wednesday to help breathe new life into a campaign to help disadvantaged children have a better Christmas.

The joint effort between the county Human Services Agency and the Merced County Sheriff’s Department has been an annual tradition for more than 15 years, but the campaign has been struggling to achieve its goal this year, Undersheriff Tom Cavallero said Wednesday.

“But each year we find the need from the community goes up and we find we need more and more help,” Cavallero said.

On Wednesday, the undersheriff thanked organizations and businesses that have pitched in to help this year. Those businesses include DaVita Dialysis, the Pedi Bar and Salon, and medical personnel from the county jail.

Derek Padron of DaVita Dialysis said his organization was excited to be involved in the Christmas effort for the first time.

Human Services representative C.J. Jones said her office is receiving more requests for assistance than ever before. Officials have received more than 350 requests with more coming every day.

“We’re getting 10 to 15 calls every day and we can’t do it without the support from the community,” Jones said.

Jones said the holiday toy drive has collected about 200 toys for children since last week, and that includes a second push that was made earlier this week at the County Administration building on M Street.

Last year, the program helped more than 1,100 families, including providing toys to more than 500 area foster kids.

Officials are seeking new, unwrapped toys as well as nonperishable foods and donations of money.

The campaign typically struggles collecting donations for children up to 3 years old as well as for children ages 11 to 19. Campaign supporters have been known to dip into their own pockets to help the cause.

Donation barrels are located through Dec. 20 at the Human Services Agency, 2115 Wardrobe Ave.; the Family Resource Center at 1573 W. Main St.; the Mental Health Department at 480 E. 13th St.; and the Public Health Department at 260 E. 15th St.

For more information, contact deputy Delray Shelton at (209) 385-7608 or C.J. Jones of the Human Services Agency at (209) 385-3000, ext. 5285.

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