For many years, Clover Area Assistance Center has provided special programs during the holidays and winter months.
One of these programs is Santa’s Closet. The Choraliers, River Hills Lions Club, All Saints Catholic Church, Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce and Lake Wylie Pilot, to name a few, have been among the organizations that have been exceptionally generous in their collection and donation of toys each December.
In addition, hundreds of toys, stocking stuffers and articles of clothing have been donated by local individuals with the hopes of making Christmas special for children in our area who may otherwise go without gifts.
But, this generosity of giving toys has not been limited only to CAAC.
A number of programs similar to Santa’s Closet have developed and grown throughout York County. Last year, CAAC, as well as several organizations involved in the Sleigh Bell Network, received so many donations, leftover toys had to be stored in warehouses and storage areas.
As a result of the abundance of opportunities available for families to obtain gifts for children, the Board of Directors of CAAC decided it is time to re-evaluate its services and the most important needs of the community.
After many heartfelt discussions, and the recognition there was a duplication of programs similar to Santa’s Closet, CAAC has decided to discontinue the program.
This definitely was not an easy decision for our Board of Directors, especially since Santa’s Closet has developed into a community tradition for donors. We have spent the last few months identifying and building partnerships with other service providers to insure that all of our families have a place to obtain toys and clothes for Christmas.
The emphasis for CAAC this holiday season is to provide food for all of their families for Thanksgiving and, new this year, Christmas as well. Board President Lisa Hall said, “As a board, we have come to realize that the economy continues to make it difficult for many to meet even the most basic of needs. For us, being able to provide food, and food to make the holiday special, is a larger priority for us than many of the other projects we have sponsored in the past.”
Although some organizations may have already started the collection of toys for Christmas, we ask that everyone who has donated toys for Santa’s Closet in the past consider replacing their giving with the collection and donation of food. The Choraliers have collected toys for CAAC at each of their Christmas performances. Alice Smith, a member of CAAC’s Board of Directors, spoke with Jay Forrest, director of the Choraliers, and said, “I am so glad the Director (Jay Forrest) is willing to make the change to food collection. We were worried we might alienate donors who have traditionally generously given toys to Santa’s Closet.”
Any group that has already begun to collect toys for Santa’s Closet can still drop-off their donations at CAAC. Those toys will be distributed to other providers in the Clover and Lake Wylie area, particularly in partnership with the Clover School District.
The collection of turkeys and hams, any size, and all of the fixings – stuffing, gravy mix, jello, pie crust, and canned yams, potatoes, cranberries, pie filling and fruit – has begun and will continue through Dec. 13. In addition, disposable aluminum roasting pans are being accepted. Items can be dropped off at CAAC, 1130 Hwy. 55 E., Clover, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday. Call 803-222-4837 for more information.
Clover Area Assistance Center is requesting all civic organizations, clubs, businesses and individuals who have donated toys to CAAC in the past, continue to provide their holiday generosity through the donation of food instead of toys.
Karen van Vierssen is executive director of Clover Area Assistance Center.