There is still time to apply or donate
More than 800 children who otherwise would not have Christmas presents under the tree this year will have a joyous Christmas morning because of Big Brothers of Mt. Juliet's outreach, the Mother's Toy Store.
Sherry Bilbrey has been president of BBMJ for more than two decades. She said the Mother's Toy Store is for families who could not otherwise buy presents for their children to open and enjoy Christmas morning.
"There are a lot of single mothers, and dads, out there working who don't have money to buy Christmas," she said. "People are out there working as hard as they can, but can't afford this. Families are also out of work, down on their luck or sickly."
The Mother's Toy Store will work a little differently this year, Bilbrey explained. In years past a large room was opened to those who qualify. Tables were loaded with toys and applicants would go in and load up a bag of toys for their children.
However, starting this year, those who apply and qualify will be given a specific time to pick up their bundle of toys Dec. 19 at 11934 Lebanon Road (across from Larry's Barber Shop).
"This way it will be less chaotic and everyone will be able to receive equal toys," said Bilbrey.
Already BBMJ has received 335 applications for the Toy Store, and community members have until Dec. 11 to apply at the Mt. Juliet Help Center or the Mt. Juliet Community Center at Charlie Daniels Park. They expect more than twice as many before the deadline.
Not possible without community's generosity
Bilbrey said the outreach would not be possible without the support from the community. People can still drop off an unwrapped toy at many Mt. Juliet locations (go to bigbrothersofmtjuliet.org for a list of drop off sites), or give a monetary donation at MJBB's website on PayPal.
"Everyone is so generous," she noted. "We have a wonderful community. The churches, businesses, the fire department and individuals truly want these kids to have a visit from Santa."
MJBB also partners with Toys for Tots and receives some small grants to help buy the hundreds of toys.
The Mother's Toy Store applications ask what the child wants (within reason) and each child will receive one large gift, two small gifts and stocking stuffers. If someone wants to "adopt" an entire family through this outreach, they can make that request as well.
"I'm so excited about this outreach," Bilbrey said. "I don't want one child to not be happy Christmas morning."
Food basket giveaway fills families up during holiday
A second prong of the outreach is MJBB's food basket giveaway. They expect over 300 families to participate. For several months there have been canned food drives throughout the community and on Dec. 19 a huge contingent of community volunteers will deliver two boxes of meat, canned goods and non-perishables to those in need.
Bilbrey said MJBB needs people to take a little time on Dec. 19 to deliver the boxes. They should arrive at 7 a.m. that day to the north Mt. Juliet Kroger parking lot.
"We would love lots of trucks, but anyone who can deliver these boxes to community members are encouraged to come on down," she said.
MJBB also has a shout out to volunteers to help them Dec. 17 to pick up all the donation barrels so the boxes of food and Mother's Toy Store packages of toys can be packed for delivery.
Anyone in the community who needs food for the holidays can apply, also at the Community Center and MJHC.
"Everyone deserves to have enough food to get them through the holidays," Bilbrey said.
MJBB also gets referrals from the schools for the food baskets.
Donations have been a little slow this year and Bilbrey urges people to buy a toy or donate some food. She says there's still plenty of time.
"We want to get these special people through Christmas," said Bilbrey. "We want everyone to have a good Christmas."
Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.