DOVER — Starting early Wednesday morning, Tuscarawas County residents began dropping off toys at WJER Radio in Dover for the annual toy drive conducted by members of the Indian Valley Future Farmers of America.
All of the items collected will be distributed to 1,515 children under the age of 12 in the county who are in need as part of the Share-A-Christmas program.
"Once again, this community has amazed me with how they support this program," said Louise Worsham, executive director of the Tuscarawas County Council for Church & Community, which sponsors Share-A-Christmas.
Indian Valley FFA students have been participating in the toy drive since 1976, a year after Share-A-Christmas began.
The students collect all of the toys, and then will sort and inventory them, according to Diane Glazer of New Philadelphia, an Indian Valley FFA alumni member who oversees the drive.
About 15 students were helping out with the collection on Wednesday, she said. The same amount will work on Monday to collect items from area businesses that had giving trees. Then they will work three evenings next week sorting and inventorying the items.
On Dec. 17 and 18, about 40 to 50 Indian Valley students will help distribute the toys at the old J.C. Penney store at New Towne Mall in New Philadelphia.
"There's usually not any problem getting the kids to come and help," Glazer said.
Another FFA alumni member helping out was Justin Scott, a 2018 Indian Valley graduate who is now attending Kent State University at Tuscarawas. He has worked on the toy drive for five years.
What does he like about working on the program?
"The joy and giving those kids who don't have much for Christmas stuff for Christmas so they can feel the Christmas spirit," he said.
Worsham said the Share-A-Christmas program is going well this year. Monetary donations have been coming in at a good pace.
At the same time, Starlight Enterprises has been collecting socks and underwear for the program, and those donations have been good as well, she said.
She noted that area students also help out with food distribution for Share-A-Christmas.
"I am very impressed with the students," Worsham said. "Tuscarawas County has a lot to be proud of in the young people being raised in the county. They are great."
Jon Baker is a staff reporter for The Times-Reporter