Children Services hosting holiday toy drive
By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa
Dec. 3, 2011: Lucas County Children Services (LCCS) enlisted the help of one of Toledo’s most popular morning radio teams Saturday in its effort to make the holidays brighter for foster and adopted kids under the agency’s care or supervision.
101.5 The River’s Mary Beth Zolik and Rick Woodell broadcasted live from the Burger King restaurant across from Westfield Franklin Park, encouraging the public to drop by and “Give the Best Gift Ever” to a child in need. The effort coincided with the annual LCCS Holiday Gift Drive. While out shopping, listeners were encouraged to donate an unwrapped toy or gift card for a child who has been abused or neglected.
Julie Malkin, LCCS public information officer stated the agency would serve 1,500-2,000 children by Christmas. The greatest unmet needs involve toys for kids between newborn and three years old and gift cards for teens. This is the fourth year the broadcast team has assisted the holiday toy drive by donating their on-air time.
“We have to, unfortunately. Every year, the need is greater,” said Ms. Zolik. “Some of these kids, actually most of these kids, are going to wake up on Christmas morning with nothing—just because the families are so dysfunctional and things aren’t happening along the right path. It’s supposed to be for the kids, but we end up feeling better for it as well.”
“For somebody who has been going through a tough time and is not even able to pay the light bill, Christmas has got to be a very depressing time,” said Woodell. “That’s what bothers me the most—when you have to decide between Christmas and the light bill, so we’re here to try to relieve some of that burden. LCCS is seeing more domestic violence situations because of the high stress levels. That’s what happens and that’s unfortunate.”
“This means so much. Their visibility really helps us get the word out,” said Ms. Malkin. “Their folks come out. We know that. Their regular listeners come in. There are a couple of nuns who come in every single year because they’re Mary Beth and Rick fans.”
More than half of the children currently being served by LCCS are under the age of five. Ms. Malkin explained the numbers are fluid, because abuse and neglect cases tend to increase dramatically during the holiday season.
Among the LCCS caseload, 12 percent of the children served are Latino. Three of every five kids are a minority. The children being served by LCCS are equally split between boys and girls. The drive provides gifts for children living with their families under LCCS supervision, or who are living with relatives in order to be safe.
“The need is still there and it’s important the community knows that our kids need something,” said Ms. Malkin. “There are a lot of kids in this community who need support. Our kids have been through a little more than most.”
“It’s so simple. Walk into just about any store anymore and they’re doing a buy two, get one free sale,” said Ms. Zolik. “For anyone wondering whether they can afford it, we will take anything: books, monetary donations. When all is said and done, you’re going to feel a whole lot better about it.”
“In 2011, we’ve seen abuse and neglect cases continue in Lucas County,” said Sherry Dunn, LCCS public information specialist and campaign coordinator. “Family stress is a big factor in child abuse and neglect, and the recent reports of increased poverty and economic hardship in Lucas County coincide with the steady number of reports of suspected child abuse. We want to make sure that kids who have been through these tough times have something to be happy about this holiday season.”
“We are hoping that with the awareness our partners will bring to this campaign, Toledo-area residents will open their hearts and help us reach our goal of providing toys to all of the children in need,” said Clare Armbruster, president of Friends of Lucas County Children Services.
Additionally, the Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 4940 Monroe St., has designated the LCCS Holiday Gift Drive as the recipient of its 2011 holiday book donation campaign, which encourages customers to purchase books to be donated to the gift drive.
Residents also are encouraged to drop a new, unwrapped toy in the collection boxes located around the community:
• Allshred Services, 3940 Technology Drive, Maumee;
• Banner Mattress and Furniture locations;
• All Toledo-area Burger King restaurants;
• Buckeye CableSystem bill payment centers;
• Woodcraft, 5311 Airport Highway, Toledo.
The LCCS Holiday Gift Drive runs through Dec. 15. Anyone interested in donating can find more information at the agency’s website www.lucaskids.net or on its Facebook page: Give the Best Gift Ever: 2011 LCCS Holiday Gift Drive.