Toys and gift cards needed for ‘Shop for Your Kids’ day

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The holidays are almost here, and more local families than ever are struggling to pay their heat and food bills. Since their parents have little or no money available for toys, many local children could be facing a bleak holiday season. With a little effort, you can help make this a magical time for hundreds of children.

Loaves & Fishes annual Shop for Your Kids Day will be held on Dec. 18 at the Bob Eisengrein Community Center (formerly known as the Devens Community Center), 100 Sherman Ave., Devens.

Last year, just more than 200 clients shopped from a wide selection of new toys, books, jewelry and gift cards, all donated by generous residents of nearby towns. Thanks to the efforts of more than 100 volunteers working to prepare and run the event, almost 500 children received gifts from their parents or guardians; many of these children would not have received anything without your help.

When you are out doing your holiday shopping for your kids, grandkids or other relatives, please consider buying a toy or donating a gift card to Shop for Your Kids. We need new, unwrapped gifts valued up to $25, or gift cards in denominations of $10, $15 or $25. (If you would prefer to send a check, mark “SFYK” in the note portion and mail it to Loaves & Fishes, P.O. Box 1, Ayer, MA 01432.) Please visit our website at loavesfishespantry.org for a list of the most desired toys, books, stocking stuffers and gift cards.

Again this year, police departments in our service area (Ayer, Groton, Devens, Harvard, Littleton, and Shirley) will be collecting toys for us. Toys may be dropped off at your local post office, the Shirley Public Library, Littleton High School, and Donelan’s Supermarkets in Groton and Littleton, or brought to the pantry (located at 234 Barnum Road, Devens) during any open pantry session. (For hours, visit the above website.) Toys or gift cards may also be dropped off Sunday and Monday, Dec. 7 and 8, and Saturday, Dec. 13, from 10 a.m. to noon. The last day for toy donations at the pantry is Wednesday, Dec. 10.

Would you be willing to have a neighborhood or company toy drive to bring a smile to the faces of these children? Just email Karen or Deb at LFShop4YourKids@gmail.com and let us know about your drive. We can arrange to pick up the toys from your location and, if you want, do a little “photo op” and some publicity for you. Thank you for helping these children have a happy holiday.