With the Christmas season around the corner, Operation Christmas Cheer is starting up again in Ashe County.
Last year, founder Adam Ham was able to provide stockings to 51 children in the county. This year, he hopes to be able to provide 125 children with the stockings.
“During the summer months I sell new toys at the local flea markets and had several boxes of them left over,” he said. “That’s how I came up with the idea for ‘Operation Christmas Cheer.’ I had toys and bought some stockings then took to Facebook to help find the kids in the community who needed help in the cheer department.
Ham said that the reply was large and he soon had to return to social media for help and donations.
Operation Christmas Cheer accepts different toys for the stockings and tries to have at least 12 items per stocking. The items can range from candy, toys and clothing to age appropriate CDs, movies and books.
“It was such a rewarding process last year that I decided to make it a full-fledged organization for this holiday season,” Ham said. “This year we are doing stockings for children and the elderly members of the county.”
Ham said he started the fundraiser last year, when the happiness of children during the holiday season was weighing on his mind, following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“Christmas is a time when every child no matter who they are or what has happened should be filled with joy,” Ham said. Knowing that isn’t always the case, I began to wonder if there was something I could do to help and spread some holiday cheer to the local children.”
Ham said the organization is still looking for people who need a little extra cheer during the season. Potential candidates include those who may be ill, have a low income or have recently lost a close friend or family member.
Items for the drive can be dropped off at Geno’s Restaurant in downtown West Jefferson and the Mark of Eden Hair Salon. Other sponsors for the fundraiser include Creative Occasions Company and Top Dawg Landscape Inc.
All of the monetary proceeds donated will go directly toward filling the stockings. Ham said it costs approximately $15 to fill one stocking.
There will be a pick up party on Dec. 23, where those nominated for stockings will come and receive their gifts, and Santa will be on hand to help celebrate. If a person who is receiving a stocking is unable to be there, the organization will deliver the gifts on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
“We have been very lucky to have great support from the community so far this year,” Ham said.
To donate or for more information call Ham at (336) 977-0702 or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/XmasCheer.