Radford group readies for holiday season needs
RADFORD — Close to 20 people spent their Wednesday lunch break working on holiday letters.
These weren’t letters to Santa, however — they were letters seeking help in answering many of the other letters St. Nick will receive over the next two months.
It was the Radford Noon Rotary Club’s annual letter-stuffing lunch, an event the group uses to kick off its support of the Radford Elf Shelf, a nonprofit organization that provides toys, books and food certificates to needy families during the holiday season.
Prior to the letter preparation, club board member Jim Nicely shared with the group the origin and purpose of the Radford Elf Shelf.
Entering its 19th year of operation, the Radford Elf Shelf was modeled after a similar program in Baltimore, Md., where a toy store with all new toys was set up for parents to shop, Nicely said.
The program, which is only available to Radford residents, has parents screened by New River Community Action for income eligibility throughout the month of November and then provides each parent with an allotted number of points they can use as currency in the store.
This year’s store will be located at Grove United Methodist Church in Radford and will be open Dec. 7-8.
The primary goal of the letters is to gain monetary assistance from the community to fill the store with the toys, books, bikes and food vouchers it needs to operate.
Nicely said last year’s letters generated more than $17,000 for the store, which helped serve 393 children and provide 208 food vouchers to Wade’s Super Market.
He added that it wasn’t just children benefiting from the store, but that many of the $25 food vouchers last year went to senior citizens living on less than $4,000 a year.
The Rotary group also provides more than a dozen Radford businesses with boxes in which toys can be donated and works with the Radford Police Department and Harvey’s Chevrolet to coordinate the refurbishing of unclaimed bicycles.
Of course, it’s not just donations that help the project function, but volunteers play many critical roles, from shopping for the toys to setting up and helping restock the store, volunteer coordinator Jean Umberger said.
Umberger said that though the group has many great volunteers, they could always use another helping hand, and those interested in helping should email her at JeanUmberger@aol.com.
To shop at the store
To become eligible to shop at the store, a person must attend one of the following screening dates at Grove United Methodist Church on 1020 Tyler Ave. in Radford:
-Nov. 5: 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
-Nov. 13: 3 to 6 p.m.
-Nov. 19: 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
-Nov. 26: 2 to 5 p.m.
A photo ID, proof of at least two months residency in the city of Radford, and a verification of social service benefits or four weeks pay stubs for each employed family member must be present to qualify.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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