As people across South Jersey rush to finish their Christmas and holiday shopping this winter season, they’ll most likely visit various stores in the process. Even if the majority of your list can be checked off via online shopping, chances are you’ll have to visit a local shop or two.
This season, Executive Director Mario D. Partee is hoping that residents are willing to purchase at least one small gift that can be donated to the Community Care Food and Clothing Pantry this month that can go toward making the holidays possible for young children across both Winslow Township and South Jersey.
“I know that this is the time of year when people get hit from all over by so many different chartable organizations asking for donations,” Partee said. “But I would like to employ people to think about small organizations that are trying to do big things in the community.”
“We wouldn’t be asking if we didn’t need it and we wouldn’t be asking if it weren’t going to the right people,” Partee added.
Partee is founder of the Community Care Food and Clothing Pantry, which is currently in the seventh year of its annual Toy Drive. In years past, the nonprofit focused primarily on helping provide those in need with food and clothing, while also gathering toy donations to be given to its clients around the holiday season.
However, in recent years, Partee says the toy drive has turned into a much larger part of its responsibilities due to the impact he’s witnessed the donations have on thankful families.
“We were originally doing a small toy drive out of a small room in our pantry and just distributed them to our local clients that would come in around the holidays,” Partee said. “But now we have an actual registration with clients that we receive through referrals from the state and other nonprofits that are truly in need. I’ve seen the faces on some of these parents… it’s a very emotional time when we do the distribution.”
For the 2019 holiday season, the pantry has 120 kids registered for its toy drive, with children ranging from just 9 months old to 17 years old. The majority of the children range from 4 to 11 years old for this year’s efforts.
Last year, Partee says the nonprofit was able to collect three gifts per child by the distribution date in preparation for the holidays, with approximately 100 children receiving gifts. This year, Partee says he hopes to be able to surpass the three-gift-per-kid mark, thanks to support via sponsors and community members supporting local families going through tough times. However, at a bare minimum, each kid will hopefully be able to receive three gifts this holiday season.
“It’s a sort of mile marker that we like to achieve, at the very least we want to maintain being able to give three gifts to each kid,” Partee said.
The toy drive for the pantry is currently ongoing, with distribution for registered families being Saturday, Dec. 21. Most important for other community members to be aware of is the toy drive set-up, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. at 242 Sicklerville Road next to the pantry. The pantry will be able to accept donations from the community at large as the event is set up for its clients.
Partee and the pantry hope that residents are able to assist in the mission to bring holiday cheer to families across South Jersey.
“If during one trip to the store this season somebody could pick out a gift or two that can go toward kids in the community, that’s such a big help,” Partee said. “Being able to donate to us really helps. No gift is too small for the impact that it will ultimately have on a family in need.”