It is painful to imagine how a child feels when there isn’t a single gift under the tree for them, but unfortunately it’s an all too common reality.
“There is more of a need than people realize,” Joyce Curran, co-commanding officer at the Salvation Army. “I’m looking at a little over 500 children that we’re looking for toys for. It’s a huge need.”
That is why she is so grateful to college students at Garden City Community College, who are doing what they can to make sure no child goes without this Christmas through the Fill a Ford Toy Drive.
All week, members of GCCC’s Collegiate Farm Bureau and Block and Bridle clubs have been helping collect toys, and in some cases, buying toys themselves, as a way of spreading a little Christmas joy to kids who might otherwise do without this year.
“There is a huge teddy bear out there right now, and the boy who brought that was like, ‘I seat belted it in my car,’” said Cindy Venjohn, agriculture instructor. “They’re having fun with it, and if you can have fun with giving back, you tend to give back more.”
Sophomore Rae Harper and her sister bought the board game Sorry, one of their favorites when they were kids.
“We played that game 100,000 times when we were kids. We wore that game out. My dad I’m pretty sure threw it away after all because he was tired of looking at it,” Harper said, laughing.
On Thursday morning, the Sorry game sat amidst the already half-full bed of the Ford pickup parked in the lot next to the John Collins building at GCCC.
“And we did get some money donations that I’ll use to buy some books and movies,” Venjohn said.
The pickup was provided by Burtis Motor Co., Inc., which also has been collecting toys all week.
“We can’t thank Burtis enough,” Venjohn said. “They have been amazingly helpful.”
The idea for Fill a Ford came about last year, as Venjohn’s students were trying to think of a charitable cause they could get behind.
“It was an idea that started out with being a food drive, and it was actually the students last year that decided ‘Hey, I kind of like the toy idea better,’” Venjohn said. “It’s just a good way for these students to give back.”
Harper said that it seemed like there were plenty of food drives this time of year, so they thought they should do something different.
“Hardly anyone does toy drives,” Harper said.
Sophomore Kyle Deaver enjoyed reliving his childhood by toy shopping, as well, but was happy just giving a kid something to smile about.
“Knowing that some kid will have a Christmas present to open, just to make them feel happy, makes me happy,” Deaver said.
Dropping the toys off at the Salvation Army last year is what gave Harper the most joy.
“The lady who took our donation was just overwhelmed and so excited. Because we can’t see the actual kids getting the toys, that, to me, was the coolest part — she was in tears. She was crying. She was just so excited,” Harper said.
That lady was Curran, who is once again overwhelmed with the generosity of both the students and those who donated, but also with God’s provision. After praying to God to provide enough toys to go around, she said, Venjohn called only 30 minutes later to tell her they would be pitching in once again this year.
“And I said, ‘Ok Lord, I understand you will fulfill,’” Curran said. “He’s never failed us.”
The Salvation Army is holding its own toy drive called Fill the Truck, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Walmart.
“We are asking for new, unwrapped toys,” Curran said, adding that they will take wrapped gifts, as well.
The Salvation Army will continue to accept both toys and monetary donations through the middle of December.
For more information on how to donate or volunteer for the Salvation Army, call (620) 276-4027.