The Ashe Missionary Baptist Association is asking the community to help provide presents for 1,000 children in the county.
“We try to provide very nice Christmas presents for the children,” said David Blackburn, Director of Missions for the Ashe Baptist Association. “It takes the whole county to make this happen.”
The project is a year-round operation where the ABA helps verify families with financial difficulties through various agencies, day cares and food pantries. Next, the group confirms the names through the Department of Social Services and starts preparing the lists.
“We send letters to the families to see if they are interested in being part of the project,” Blackburn said.
The association gets the families to fill out an application which tells the child’s clothing sizes and their three preferred gifts. Blackburn said the first thousand are then selected, and that parents need to turn in those forms quickly.
“Within two days I will have a list of 1,000 children,” he said.
People then select a card (or cards) with the child’s first name and information from the application. Cards started going out for the presents on Nov. 4.
Local corporations and churches will take between 50 and 100 cards while one person can only afford to take just one.
“Some folks have a lot of money and they will buy everything on the card, but some people will buy what they can,” Blackburn said.
Volunteers are able to help out in a multitude of ways. Even if those involved cannot provide the gifts, they can help by moving gifts, checking the clothing sizes and by providing food and drinks.
“When you are wrapping 10,000 gifts, it takes a lot of people,” Blackburn said.
Monetary donations are also accepted so the organization can get any last minute gifts that some donors might not be able to provide.
Gifts are brought to Family Central in the first week of December and that’s when the preparation for surprises begins. Much of the time in December goes into wrapping the gifts.
“We try and wrap as many individual gifts as possible so each child will have as many gifts as possible to unwrap,” Blackburn said.
Alongside the Christmas project, the ABA conducts a new book drive so children will be able to take home books as well.
“We have about $1,000 worth of brand new books,” Blackburn said. “Each child can get one or two books to take home, and they choose which books they want.”
There are numerous drop-off locations in the county for the new book donations. They are: McDonald’s, Ashe County Public Library, West Jefferson United Methodist Church, Ashe County Partnership for Children and Jefferson United Methodist Church.
The work involved insures that children in Ashe County will have presents for the Christmas holiday.
“We give (the presents) to them, say ‘Merry Christmas’ and they go home,” Blackburn said.
Those who want to give gifts or volunteer in other ways can call the Ashe Baptist Association at (336) 846-5641 or email Blackburn at firstname.lastname@example.org.