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The Daily Tar Heel

Charities to Brighten Holidays

Staff Writer

Area charities are looking to make the holiday season a bit warmer and brighter with the help of volunteers.

In addition to their year-round battle against hunger and poverty, organizations like the Salvation Army, Yates Baptist Association, Meals on Wheels and others also work to bring the holiday spirit to underprivileged families.

Cape Grice, director of the Salvation Army, presides over the Toys for Tots program, which provides donated toys to children in Durham, Orange and Person counties.

"We want to make sure that every child has something for Christmas," he said.

"Social services organizations give us the names. They provide us the ages and the sexes of the children, and we distribute the toys accordingly."

Grice also said the service helps about 750 to 800 families each year.

"We cross-reference the names with other organizations to make sure that there is no overlap in distribution to the families," he said.

Grice said volunteers are needed to help facilitate this large undertaking.

The Salvation Army also helps sponsor another type of toy drive, the Toy Store, which is set up by Yates Baptist Association in Durham.

The charitable association includes 68 Southern Baptist churches in Durham, Orange and Chatham counties. Director Faye Bassett said this project is different from others because the parents pay for the toys.

"In our store we offer new toys, books, gifts, crafts and clothes," Bassett said.

"We sell the gifts at 10 percent of the original value. The parents like to buy the toys because it adds dignity to the process."

Bassett said the money raised through the parents' payments for the toys is donated to a crisis ministry, further extending the effects of philanthropy.

Interested shoppers will find only one store available, where shopping is by appointment only. A bus line is offered to transport shoppers to and from the store.

Geanie Arnel, director of Meals on Wheels, said the holidays were business as usual for his organization. Volunteers deliver food year-round to residents who are confined to home.

The organization benefits about 70 people in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, Arnel said.

"On Christmas Day, the Judeo Reform Temple will deliver meals for families," she said. "They've been doing it for years."

Arnel said recipients pay $3 per meal, but the community also chips in with donations.

"We get help from local churches and from organizations like United Way," she said. "The Girl Scouts are also making ornaments."

Leila Dylan, finance director for the Inter-Faith Council, said her organization does not have a specific Christmas charity. But, like Meals on Wheels, the IFC had been successful in making winter easier for the people they help.

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"Recently, Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity canvassed different local neighborhoods hanging bags from Harris Teeter," Dylan said.

"They collected about five tons of food, which is a new record."

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