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Christmas program prepares for families

YATES COUNTY--Despite facing new challenges posed by the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Yates Christmas Program will again take place in December.
In a typical year, community volunteers along with area students work together to distribute clothing, toys, games and blankets. However, the new COVID-19 protocol will use gift cards to help assist families and children.
"We need to keep the health and safety of not only our volunteers but also the families participating in the program, which is why we are doing a drive-through gift card distribution," said Donna Johnston of the Yates Christmas Program.
Johnston said registration for the program is eligible for all children within the Penn Yan and Dundee school districts but that registration should be done by Friday, Oct. 30.
"Would we turn away a family coming to us after Oct. 30? No, but we do ask that everyone who plans on participating try as hard as they can to do so by the deadline (so that we can adequately prepare)," Johnston stated.
While COVID has forced the Yates Christmas Program to adapt to new realities, Johnston said the program is doing everything it can to assist those who may miss out on other programs that aren't possible this year.
"The college usually does something every year and they aren't going to this year due to COVID so we are taking on the families they would usually help," said Johnston.
As it stands each child per registered family will receive a $25 gift card to Wal-Mart.
"That is the only store that we know for a fact has toys year-round," added Johnston.
Along with the $25 gift card given to each child, each family will also receive a $25 gift card to a local store to help with general items or additional toys for children in the family.
"So a family with three children will receive gift cards totaling $100," Johnston said.
Distribution of the gift cards will take place Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Dec. 3 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Finger Lakes Produce Auction. Johnston said masks will be required by everyone who participates and drivers must place a note on their dashboard with their name and the number of children in the household.
Johnson added she hopes operations for 2021 will return to normal.
If you are interested in participating in the program call Donna Johnston at 315-536-2683 or email her at
You can find more information at

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