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Christmas for All making kids smile for years

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Jim Wagner double checks bags of toys to make sure they are age appropriate as workers ready gifts for pickup at Christmas for All. Wagner has volunteered for the program for twelve years. DALLUS WHITFIELD / The Wilson Post

Non-profit organization Christmas for All is getting ready to provide holiday gifts to more than 2,000 kids in Lebanon and Watertown.

Linda Schenk and other volunteers met on Wednesday to fill gift bags with toys purchased for the outreach.

"We have people who donate money for the gifts, and some schools, churches and individuals will also sponsor kids. We had a school sponsor 100 kids," Schenk explained. "We just give them names, ages, gender and present suggestions."

Kids signed up for the program on-average receive $50 worth of merchandise.

"We have one person who goes out and shops for all these toys," Schenk said, pointing to the stack of hundreds of toys that had not been packed for pickup. "She will be at Walmart for maybe nine hours a day for several days. Walmart gives us such good deals and she's also gone to Dollar General."

Schenk said that it is hard to buy presents for kids ages 13 thru 15 - so in those cases they distribute $50 gift cards.

"Some of the toy bags contain $60-70 worth of toys. We used to say $50 per bag, but my theory is I would rather them get more than not enough. We want to make their Christmas special," she added.

Some of the families who sign up for Christmas for All have admitted they've gone without a Christmas for the last several years.

"They are so grateful," Schenk said.

Enrollment opens at the end of October and will conclude at 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9.

To get gifts, families must go through the local Department of Human Services office. They will need to provide proof of residence, photo ID, and birth certificates and school information of the children.

"We enter all the information into the database and print up forms. Then the volunteers come here and go through all the stuff to put the bags together," Schenk said. "It is a really well-oiled machine."

If anyone has questions or wishes to donate, please call (615) 547-1106.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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Christmas, Christmas For All, community, donations, giving back, holidays, Wilson County
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