Two local residents and the are seeking toy donations from the community to make the holiday season a little brighter for less fortunate children in the East Bay.
Dyan Vaughan and her daughter, Cara Beller, have helped local children since 1999, but this year, the mother daughter duo have teamed up with the East Bay Food Pantry to coordinate a giving tree drive to help carry the burden of gift giving for hundreds of needy families in the East Bay.
"It started as a service project for my daughter, Cara, when she was in 8th grade," she said, noting that Cara is now 25 and they still carry on the tradition. "It was so rewarding, so we just kept doing it every year after that."
This year, the donations will go to children of families who utilize the East Bay Food Pantry.
"We approached them last year and at first they weren't sure it was a good idea- since their primary mission is to provide food - not toys," she said. "But I know that it hurts a parent's heart if they can't provide a gift for their child at Christmas, so we went ahead."
According to Vaughan, the pantry currently serves 3,700 individuals, with at least 900 being children. So far, Vaughan says there are more than 225 children on the list for gifts on the giving trees.
"Almost all of the kids are asking for clothing instead of toys, a real sign of the times," she said. "But we're still trying to get a toy for each child too."
Vaughan says the food pantry will provide each family with a holiday food basket, but she and her daughter are responsible for collecting toy donations.
She says some tags have already been taken by local businesses for their staff to help, including , , , Tri Mack, Trane, The Women's Fire Auxiliary, , , , and even the and the Barrington Post Office.
"The need is overwhelming," she said. "We couldn't do this effort without the help of community partners and individuals who take tags. This year, one woman from Fall River called me to say she was drawn to helping children this holiday season and she took about 15 tags. A real God-send!"
Anyone interested can find a Giving Tree set up at the following locations.
- on Gooding Avenue in Bristol
- on Hope Street in Bristol
- on County Road in Barrington
For another two weeks, parents registered with the food pantry are invited to put their children (under age 16) on a list with their first name, age, clothing size and any special wish list. Registration is for clients of the Eats Bay Food Pantry, which is open to any at-risk family in the East Bay community (from Riverside to Little Compton). Anyone who is interested in donating a gift must turn them in by Dec. 16.