December 15, 2009


Charities working to gift wrap holiday cheer

Local charity groups collecting toys and food for the needy in advance of Christmas


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Members of the Cortland County Board of Realtors wrap charitable Christmas presents Friday at Grace Episcopal Church. The wrapped presents were distributed by Loaves and Fishes at the church on Friday.

Staff Reporter

With the holiday season in full swing, local charity groups are hard at work collecting toys and food for the needy.
The Cortland County Board of Realtors held a special luncheon Friday afternoon and giftwrapped toys that will be distributed to children at Loaves and Fishes this week.
Joanne Sweeney, a Realtor at Yaman Real Estate who participated in the program, said more than 100 toys were wrapped Friday.
Sweeney said she was pleased with the donations, which were given by local Realtors.
“I think everyone is just a little more mindful of the hard times people are experiencing,” Sweeney said.
Leaders of local charitable groups expected fewer donations than in years past, but organizers say that makes what does come in all the more appreciated.
Norm Stitzel, the local Toys For Tots coordinator, said the tough economy has set his group’s efforts behind schedule.
“We’re still behind where I’d like to be,” Stitzel said. “This is crunch time.”
After volunteers spent several days and long hours wrapping gifts, Toys For Tots will begin distributing them Friday to needy families.
Stitzel said the preparation is hard work, especially with all volunteers, but is still worthwhile.
“It wouldn’t be as satisfying if it was all easy,” Stitzel said.
More than 700 needy children in the county are expected to receive three toys each, Stitzel said.
“The toys some kids get this year are an addition to other things they’re getting, but for some other kids, this is all they get,” he said.
Salvation Army Capt. Scott Dorchak said he encourages people to give whatever they can to families in need, especially around the holidays.
The Salvation Army will be providing toys and food for 215 families this year, Dorchak said.
He said the Salvation Army is still seeking enough toys to provide for those families and although the deadline was Saturday, donations will still be taken this week.
“We don’t have as much as we would like,” he said.
Dorchak said one possibility is some people who typically donate many items simply cannot afford to this year, which is something he expected might happen given the state of the local and national economies.
Stitzel said as with last year, the economy has discouraged some people from making donations, but some local organizations and businesses are stepping it up this year to help.
Among the businesses and organizations that pitched in with Toys For Tots this year are Pall Trinity, Walmart, Ponderosa, China Power Sports, Natoli’s Market and local veterans’ groups, he said.


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