12/18/09 — Organization needs help getting 400 toys for children

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Organization needs help getting 400 toys for children

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on December 18, 2009 1:46 PM

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Mary Mosley, volunteer program coordinator for Goldsboro-based Operation Transition, sorts through the 150 donated toys that have been collected for children in need. The charity still needs gifts for more than 400 children.

Mary Mosley is hoping for a Christmas miracle for more than 600 needy children in Wayne County.

The coordinator of Operation Transition Inc. has just five days to collect more than 400 toys as part of the 501(c)3 non-profit's second annual toy drive.

The toy drive began as an outreach program to local families. While Operation Transition primarily runs a home for women transitioning from domestic violence situations and other challenging backgrounds, over the past two years, Ms. Mosley and other organizers have worked to give back to the community that has helped make Operation Transition possible.

Last year, the group collected hundreds of coats and toys for local kids, and this year, they also collected and gave away Thanksgiving turkeys for senior citizens in need.

But with less than a week before Christmas, 675 children from 420 families are signed up to receive a toy, and even with the Toys for Tots program's help, Operation Transition is far short of its goal.

The group is collecting toys appropriate for children up to age 12, with no price guidelines necessary.

"We're looking at anything, we have 675 children, and I don't want to turn anyone away," Ms. Mosley said.

The need this year is far greater than what the group faced last year at the drive. Then, Operation Transition collected and gave away 285 toys to local children. Over Thanksgiving, the organization gave away 60 turkeys and chickens to the elderly and sick residents of Wayne County.

But the list of families hoping for a toy under the tree is 22 pages long, dwarfing the group's previous efforts, Ms. Mosley said.

One such family in need this year, with six children at home ranging in age from 13 months and up, used to be on the other side of equation.

Clairese Herbert used to work with a homeless shelter and the Toys for Tots program, and never thought her own family would end up needing help.

But when the couple's youngest child was born premature and required hospital care, the family was left with nowhere else to turn. Mrs. Herbert signed up at Operation Transition's toy giveaway, hoping to receive something under the tree for her children.

"It's hard enough paying the day-to-day bills and keeping the lights on, and paying the rent, and then having Christmas on top of that. Today's the 17th, and we still don't have a tree up," she said.

"Whatever it is donated to us, how big, how little, it would be something to give to the children on Christmas morning."

As the days and hours count down, Ms. Mosley is seeking last minute help from the community to make Christmas special for the hundreds of children who might otherwise be left out on the holiday.

"I'm just trusting in God for this thing, it's going to work out," she said.

If donors don't have time to shop for a toy, they are welcome to drop off cash or checks. The group is even running out of time for packaging toys for specific families.

"At this late hour, we are asking that they bring them directly to the home, and we'll transport then to Herman Park for distribution," Ms. Mosley said.

Also needed are volunteers to help package and transport the toys from the storage location to the Herman Park Center where they will be distributed. Any volunteers willing to lend a hand are welcome, too.

"We trust that North Carolina cares, and we know that there are giving people out there, and just understand how critical the times are for a lot of people. We just appreciate whomever can help. We had no idea we were going to run over," she said.

To donate, drop off a toy, cash or check at 305 W. Walnut St. Checks should be made payable to Operation Transition Inc. Donors can also drop off toys at Herman Park Center on Dec. 22. For more information, contact Operation Transition at 583-8942.

Sign-ups to receive a toy are closed.