Local organization to spread holiday cheer with toys

Pastor Willie Simpson, founder and CEO of Crossroads Youth Development Center, a non-profit organization in Jonesboro, has driven countless miles to the Toys For Tots distribution center in Lawrenceville, Ga.

Her reason for doing so? To bring holiday cheer to scores of children and families in Clayton County, who, she said, are in “desperate” need of assistance.

“Things are not getting better,” said Simpson. “We get 10 to 15 calls a week for our food pantry.”

She added that there is a greater number of families coming in this year for food assistance than in previous years, because of the downturn in the economy.

“More people are [losing their jobs] and they do not have the funds [for toys for their children],” she said.

Simpson said because of her knowledge of the community, and the relationships she has built with the Clayton County School System’s hsomeless education department, she is able to get the resources she needs to help meet the needs of the families in the area.

Last year, she said, her organization helped more than 200 families with toys for the Christmas holidays, and she believes she will be able to do the same this year.

“Most of the families,” she said, “are referred to our organization through United Way’s 211 hotline.” The families served through her organization’s food pantry have been pre-selected to receive toys for Christmas, she said.

She added that, depending on the age of the child, the limit of toys will be two per child.

In order to qualify to receive toys, said Simpson, the following information must be provided by the families:

• A photo identification card,

• Proof of residency in Clayton County,

• Birth Certificates for all children in the household.

Simpson said her organization has been taking applications for Toys For Tots since Nov. 1. “So far, we have received more than 50 applications,” she said, adding that the application cut-off date is Dec. 10. Applications, she said, are accepted from 9 a.m., to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday, at Crossroads Youth Development Center, located at 737 Veterans Parkway, in Jonesboro.

Simpson said families can pick up their toys Dec. 16-21. For more information, call (770) 756-9100.