Volunteers sought for Community Cares Toy Shop

Organizers anticipate a need for hundreds of volunteers in Henry County's first Community Cares Toy Shop Program next month.

The initiative is a combined effort of community agencies and organizations — led by McDonough-based non-profits, Connecting Henry, Inc., and Avalon HOPE, Inc. — to help provide Christmas for roughly 1,100 needy children in Henry County, according to Connecting Henry Director Daryl Dotschay.

Dotschay said the effort will require as many as 564 volunteers daily, during the upcoming three-day Community Cares Toy Shop event.

Toys purchased in bulk from donations will be used to create a sort-of toy store, where needy parents can "shop" for their children (age 12 and under). The shop will be open Thursday, Dec. 8, through Saturday, Dec. 10, between 8 a.m., and 8 p.m.

"We're trying to get to the 1,100 kids [in this year's program]," said Dotschay, adding that store operations will require 188 volunteers working per four-hour shift.

The Connecting Henry director explained that the collaborative, which conducted interviews with needy families last month, is now focusing on raising money and recruiting volunteers for next month's event.

"This is an opportunity, where, if you can't give financially, then giving your time is just as valuable," Dotschay said. "Anything you can give — whether its before, during, or after the event —will directly impact all the families who come to the store."

Community Cares Toy Shop volunteer opportunities include being a personal shopping assistant, wrapping gifts, baby-sitting, making homemade goodies, serving cocoa and cookies, security, decorating, stocking the shelves and clean-up.

Kristi Garrett plans to volunteer Saturday at the event, alongside several of her colleagues at the Henry County Judicial Center. She said the offices within the judicial center have combined efforts to collect new toys to donate to the program.

"I believe all children deserve a Christmas, and we all need to chip in and help each other," said Garrett, judicial executive assistant to Henry County State Court Judge Jason T. Harper.

Garrett said there is a collection box located on the ground floor of the judicial center, located at One Judicial Center in downtown McDonough. Employees at the judicial center will be collecting new toys up until 8:45 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 1, and will deliver them to Connecting Henry.

"The response we've gotten from the community has been unbelievable," added Dotschay. "We feel very confident that it is going strong."

To learn more about making monetary donations, contact Connecting Henry at (770) 288-6230, or donate online through www.connectinghenry.org.

Dotschay said those interested in volunteering for the event, should e-mail Avalon HOPE at hope@avalonhope.net by the end of the work day on Monday, Nov. 28.