In the heat of summer, Christmas probably isn't top of mind, but the Helen Ross McNabb is hoping to get a jump start on its inventory of holiday toys.
"This is our second year doing the Christmas in July toy drive. We started it as a way to bump up our inventory for the holiday season,” said Rebecca McKnight, public relations for Helen Ross McNabb Center.
The Helen Ross McNabb Center provides behavioral and mental health services to families in East Tennessee.
Its Dear Santa Program ensures that children who receive services and their siblings get gifts on Christmas.
"As a single parent, I do struggle from time to time, and Helen Ross McNabb is there for the extra support as well as the help that we need,” Kayla, a single mother of three, explained.
Each year more than 2,000 East Tennessee children are able to open gifts on Christmas morning thanks to the Dear Santa program.
“A lot of programs only cater to the children receiving services, so I thought that was great,” Kayla said when she found out the Dear Santa program would also provide for all her children.
"It's important for us to make sure that all the siblings are included, so no one's left out. We don't want any child to not have a memorable or a joyful holiday, and we feel that by including every child in the household, that it's equal. You make sure that everyone has a gift to open for Christmas,” McKnight said.
McKnight expects the need to be even greater this year compared to years past due to COVID-19 and the financial struggles many families are facing.
She hopes they can collect at least 500 toy donations through the Christmas in July Toy Drive.
"We're really encouraging the community to come out to shop our Amazon wishlist. You don't have to go out into the stores. Click on the link through Amazon and purchase from the comfort of your own home. It ships directly to us. That will help us to beef up our stock and have toys readily available this December,” McKnight explained.
To shop the Amazon wish list from the comfort and safety of your home, CLICK here.
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