Volunteers on Friday were busy at the Community Services League office in Independence sorting toys and other goods, getting ready for the Christmas store later this month.
Last year, at the Noland and White Oak office alone, about 950 kids got two presents each. Balls, headphones and wireless speakers are among the more popular choices, said Martha Waits, who has organized the toy part of the Christmas store operation for about 10 years and who is a year-round volunteer for the group.
She had a shift of volunteers Friday morning and another in the afternoon. That will be the daily pattern up until the store opens from Dec. 14 to Dec. 20.
“It’s an ongoing volunteer effort up here,” she said.
More than 700 families are already signed up. There also are Christmas stores Dec. 13 in Grain Valley and Oak Grove and Dec. 19-20 in Fairmount.
“It’ll be close to 2,500 families, so the round number we use is we’ll go through 10,000 Christmas gifts,” said Community Services League President and CEO Doug Cowan.
That also means 250 to 500 volunteers.
“We could always use more volunteers,” Waits said.
The idea of the Christmas store is that moms and dads, or grandmas and grandpas, can go through and get toys, socks and/or underwear, a winter clothing item – gloves, scarf, hat – and a food box that includes the makings of a holiday meal, including ham, turkey or chicken. A personal shopper helps walk them through the process.
“They’re shopping for their kids,” Cowan said.
Other stuff comes in, too. Waits said gently used purses are filled with makeup, hand cream and similar items – “It kind of depends on what we have,” she said – and those are put out as an option gift.
Here’s an all-purpose website: cslcares.org. That’s where families can sign up if they meeting income guidelines, it’s where volunteers can sign up, and it’s where donors can link to an Amazon program through which they can order $10 to $15 items to be delivered to the Community Services League.
Cowan said the group works hard to make sure the experience – the range and quality of items available – is the same on the last day of the store as on day one.