Businesses, residents give to Community Action toy drive

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Some of the members on the toy drive effort for Community Action of Orleans & Genesee include, from left: Kris Hartwig, administrative assistant at S.B. Whistler and Sons (Phinney Tool and Die); Annette Finch, community services director for Community Action; Marsha Rivers, executive director of the Orleans County United Way; Michelle Figueroa, case manager for emergency services at Community Action; and Megan Piccirilli, administrative assistant for Community Action. Some other committee members include Carolyn Wagner, human resource manager for BMP in Medina; and Wendy Hinkley. The toys in this picture were donated by Gary the Happy Pirate in Rochester.

ALBION – Businesses and residents accepted the challenge to play Santa Claus to nearly 400 children in the Albion area.

The community members bought toys for 377 children in a toy challenge. Donors were given gift tags for children, listing their first name, age and three desired gifts. The residents, business owners and employees then want out and shopped.

It was the first time Community Action of Orleans & Genesee tried the gift tags where donors knew the name of the child they were shopping for and their desired gifts.

“It became more personal,” said Kris Hartwig, an administrative assistant at S.B. Whistler and Sons in Medina, a regular participant in the Community Action toy drive. “You know you’re getting them something they like.”

There were 53 donors who gave gifts to 377 children and 54 adults. Donors also gave $2,500 to the effort and Community Action and volunteers will use the money for gifts and food for the families.

“I like the feeling of helping the family,” Hartwig said. “Everything that is given stays in our community.”

Each family will get a holiday basket with food, and much of that will come Saturday morning when the Albion FFA chapter delivers food collected from local farmers. Some of that bounty will be shared with food pantries around the county.

Michelle Figueroa works as case manager for emergency services for Community Action. She has helped organize all the toys and food. She is impressed by the community’s generosity.

“I think it’s awesome,” Figueroa said. “It’s showing the love. They have that holiday spirit.”

In addition to the effort in the Albion area, Community Action has organized a toy and holiday basket drive in Holley and Kendall for about 125 children and their families. The Lyndonville Lions are collecting toys for about 125 children. The Medina Area Association of Churches also runs a toy drive for children in the Medina area.

Altogether, the organizations will direct toys to 800 to 1,000 children in Orleans County, said Annette Finch, community services director for Community Action.