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United Way helps brighten Christmas for kids

Tucked away in the United Way of Halifax County headquarters in downtown South Boston are four rooms full of holiday cheer for a lot of children who otherwise may not have a Merry Christmas.

Clothing, games, primary books and toys awaited pick up by Santa’s helpers, the result of a successful Gifts of Love Holiday Toy Drive, a first for her organization, according to CEO/Executive Director Jewell Medley of the United Way of Halifax County.

“We have four different rooms to make it easier for parents when they come to pick up toys for their children,” explained Medley.

“This came about because the United Way wanted to become more visible in the community.  People didn’t even know where we were, and we had a lot of calls this holiday season needing help and from people in distress.

“It laid on my heart to do this toy drive for the community,” she added.  “We can’t be Santa Claus and give them everything they want, but at least the children will have something under the tree.

“Sometimes these children fall between the cracks and don’t get as much as some other children in the community, and some of the other programs don’t reach them.”

Parents applying for the toy drive come from a wide range of demographics, Medley pointed out.

“We have a lot of working parents who applied for this toy drive, and it covers a wide range of demographics.  We’ve had people from all over donate toys including different organizations and businesses.

“The community has really come through for us,” she said.

The toy drive started Nov. 22 and ended Dec. 17 with parents making their selections this week, Medley said.

“I’m very pleased with the turnout and so grateful with the confidence people in the county show for the United Way.”

At least 400 toys were received, according to Jason Clark, program director for the United Way.

“We got tremendous support,” he emphasized, “from different businesses and people from all walks of life.”

“We were very pleased with the turnout.  We were mostly pleased we were able to put some toys under kids’ trees this year who may not have any.

“They may not have the best of things, but they will have something.

“The kids just need that little something to get them through, and we were happy to provide that.”

Darius Jennings, a recent Halifax County High School graduate, wanted to give back to his community and found just the right way to do that while volunteering his services for the toy drive.

“I just came back from college, and I wanted to help restore the youth in Halifax County,” said Jennings.

“After all, I grew up here, and I thought the kids had low spirits about everything.  I talked to Ms. Medley and Mr. Clark, and they told me how I could help restore it.”

Parents made their selections personally on Tuesday, according to Medley.

“We want them to come in and get a little excited about what they’re going to give their children for Christmas,” she added with a smile.