“This is the first time ever that we've had to turn people away. Because due to the number of people that have signed up this year ... the numbers were so large that we're still about $3,000 short of helping everyone that's on our list,” said Leroy Hackworth of Jaycees.
He added that $3,000 could make the difference by helping 60 families and children.
In the past, Jaycees have used events like telemarketing and their annual haunted house to raise money for their year-end holiday programs.
“When this started 18 years ago, the club actually made food baskets with canned goods or different meats. Just different items. Throughout the years, we've gone from that, to actually buying Christmas gifts for children,” Hackworth said.
Also instead of doing a food basket, the group now simply gives out gift cards for the local Kroger - redeemable for food items only.
The way people are chosen, according to Hackworth, is that groups like Jaycees, the homeless shelter and Catholic Social Services turn in a list of needy people to The Salvation Army. The lists are then checked to make sure the same person isn't listed on two different lists.
The general public still could help Jaycees by donating money, which is used to buy toys and gifts from Kmart and food cards from Kroger. All donations can be dropped off at the Chamber of Commerce in the Welcome Center on Second Street before Wednesday.
Hackworth also sits on the homeless shelter board, and said many other organizations also are having difficult times.
“We (the homeless shelter) were promised a truckload of toys last week. We went to Columbus to get them, and there was nothing,” he said.
Maureen Cadogan of the homeless shelter said they spent money they didn't have to gas up their truck and drive to Columbus for those toys. She said the homeless shelter still is asking for toy donations.
“The week before Christmas we get probably 20 calls a day from people who did not sign up for Jaycees, who did not sign up with Catholic Social Services, who did not sign up with Salvation Army and other agencies in the community. So there are a lot of kids who are not going to have anything to unwrap for Christmas,” she said.
Normally, the shelter will donate toys from their Toys for Tots collection to children who are not already on the list, but this year Cadogan said they have nothing to give. She asked that people donate an unwrapped toy, appropriate for all ages, to the Scioto County Homeless Shelter on Eighth Street anytime this week.
“Even if they want to wrap it ... just so they'd have something to unwrap on Christmas morning, so faces that would normally wear a frown can smile on Christmas day. If everyone does something, then we can make a difference,” Cadogan said.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.