JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Black Friday set a new retail sales record, an encouraging sign for the economy. One Region 8 non-profit, however, is hoping that leads to more giving this year.
The Jonesboro Jaycees are trying to make Christmas a little merrier for children in need in Northeast Arkansas. Members are collecting donations through their Christmas for Kids Toy Drive. The Jaycees have held the toy drive for almost 30 years, and, this year, the group is providing gifts to more than 1,700 children.
"We don't want to go without," said Cory Wade, project co-chair. "We will stretch ourselves thin to provide for them. That's what we believe in, and that's what we're going to do."
All the group's fundraising efforts contribute to the toy drive. The Jaycees will spend about $15,000 on toys, but the community's support is key.
"Time might be tough for some of us, but my children are still going to have toys under the tree," Wade said. "At the same time, we don't know what it's like to wake up to a Christmas with nothing, and we want to fix that for these children."
The Jaycees have collected about 700 toys so far, a third of what the group needs. Volunteers have placed donation drop boxes in several businesses around the area, including Walgreen's and Toy Castle. Wade says he is surprised by the amount given already.
"It makes you feel such a pride for your community, the giving," he added.
The Jaycees will distribute toys on December 17 at the NEA District Fairgrounds. Wade can recall the fulfillment he felt last year when he passed out gifts to one family in need.
"The joy she had, the smile on her face, the hug she gave me – it was something I'll never forget," Wade said.
The Jonesboro Jaycees will collect new, unwrapped toys Saturday. Residents can drop off donations at the Wal-Mart Super Center on Parker Road from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.