This holiday season, Yelm Community Schools is bringing back its holiday gift program with the goal of providing toys and clothes to local children.
Several Yelm community members and businesses, including Funtime Toys and Gifts, Anytime Fitness, Grocery Outlet, InGenius! Gallery & Boutique, Nisqually Valley Moose Lodge and Olympia Federal Savings, are participating in the program.
According to Yelm Community Schools Community Relations/Outreach Coordinator Sophia Struna, the district is aiming to fill 110 requests from children within the district. People interested in donating can visit businesses with a giving tree decorated with request tags, or participating businesses had the option of buying items on the tags themselves. Requests are guidelines to give donors an idea of what each child likes. Gifts can be delivered to the participating businesses for the district to pick up or at the Yelm district office by Monday, Nov. 27, but some will be accepted later as well. Gifts must be kept unwrapped and grouped together with the request tag.
The district will host a wrapping party at the Nisqually Valley Moose Lodge on Wednesday, Dec. 6. YCS encourages any interested volunteers to help wrap gifts at the event. Volunteers will give gifts to the children at their schools on Monday, Dec. 11, so they can have them before winter break.
The requests do not have children’s names on them, but they include grade, gender, shirt/pants size (if applicable) and interests like Pokemon, Legos, clothes and more. Some mention needs, like shoes, backpacks and art supplies.
“This community is really great about wanting to volunteer and doing the little things. Getting people to help out is not a hard thing in this community,” Struna said. “It’s cool that people can come together like that when need is apparent.”
Heather Ekland, owner of Funtime Toys and Gifts, said choosing to help children in need is like adopting them in a sense.
“It gives folks the opportunity to kind of adopt a kid for Christmas because a lot of families want to do something to help a kid,” Ekland said. “It builds community. These kids know that the gifts are coming from their community, so they know that their community cares. You never know how you’re going to affect people.”
Struna added that what makes the program successful is how much the businesses want to help and look forward to the opportunity to give back to the community.
“It’s exciting when it’s that time of the year and people are ready to go,” she said. “There’s really a network of people in Yelm that are always willing to do this kind of thing.”