Christmas program will help 300 families
YATES COUNTY--The annual Yates Christmas Program (formerly Christmas for the Needy) is organizing their volunteers to once more bring toys, clothes and food to families in need this holiday season. The distribution days for this year will be Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 9 and 10. The U.S. Armory, located at 198 Cornwell St. in Penn Yan, will be utilized to distribute new items by appointment only and the First Presbyterian Church, located at 211 Main St. in Penn Yan will be distributing gently used donated items from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday. The First Baptist Church will be handling food distribution at 224 Main St. in Penn Yan from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10, and from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 11.
Christmas for the Needy has been providing clothes, toys, books, food and other essential items to families in need during the holiday season for more than 30 years. The program is run entirely by volunteers who organize the donations made by community members and help distribute them to the less fortunate.
Executive Director Donna Johnston said the Yates Christmas Program served 861 children last year and some 300 families, anticipating similar numbers for this year. Some of the items being distributed this year includes hats, gloves, blankets, socks, coats, toys, puzzles, games and candy for children. Volunteers are currently in the process of organizing all of the donations
Johnson credits Lake Street Plaza owner Demetrios Pappan with letting the Yates Christmas Program use a storage facility rent free, as well as ProAction in Bath who pays for the heating in the facility. While some six to eight volunteers usually work at the storage building at a time, Johnston said some 300 volunteers will help out with distribution across the entire program between the armory, Presbyterian and Baptist churches. These volunteers also include students from both the Penn Yan and Dundee Central School Districts.
"It takes like a million people to make this project work," Johnston said.
One of the things the program is bringing back this year is candy for stocking stuffers for the children. She said the program used to give candy to the families years ago before it was discontinued. However, volunteer shoppers expressed interest in bringing the candy back, so Johnston said the Keuka Candy Emporium on Main Street in Penn Yan donated the bags and ties for the stocking stuffers, selling the candy to the program at cost. Also new this year is a free bike raffle, where families can put their name and phone number in a jar for a drawing to win a children's bike.
Johnston said there is an optional volunteer meeting Thursday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. She said those who still have donations they would like to make to the program can be taken to each bank in Penn Yan.