Charities prepare for Christmas food and toy programs
by Michelle Babcock
December 07, 2013 11:30 PM | 1972 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As Christmas approaches, Cherokee County charities are preparing to help families and children have a happier holiday by providing food and toys to those in need.

Local nonprofit organizations Papa’s Pantry and MUST Ministries are asking for donations, leading up to what they say is the busiest time of year for serving those in need.

Sandi Harding, director of client services for Papa’s Pantry, said the organization is collecting food donations for their annual holiday food box giveaway Dec. 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Throughout the year, the organization works with regular clients, providing counseling or employment classes, but they will be giving away boxes of food to anyone in need while supplies last.

“As we put those boxes together, we’re still looking for items like toiletries, four-packs of toilet paper, Kleenexes, peanut butter and jelly, canned meat like chicken or ham, toothbrushes and toothpaste,” Harding said Friday. “Things like those would be wonderful, if people are wanting to donate, or, any other canned goods.”

Along with those items, Harding said the organization could always use donations of canned fruits and cereal, which the pantry “always seems to run low on.”

Monetary donations can be made on the organization’s website, found at

Donations of nonperishable foods can be dropped off at the Woodstock Papa’s Pantry location, at 6551 Commerce Parkway, Suite 200. Along with the food box program at Papa’s Pantry, the organization also does a program called “Papa Noel.”

The organization looks at the families who are working with Papa’s Pantry and identifies children that have not gotten help from any other organization. that have not gotten help from any other organization. Sponsors are found for the identified families, who provide gifts and necessities for the family and children in need.

The organization has located donors to purchase gifts for children in all 14 families identified this holiday season, Harding said.

“Blessedly, we are covered with the children that we’ve got so far,” she said.

For more information, the Woodstock location of Papa’s Pantry can be reached at (770) 591-4730, and the Canton branch can be reached at (770) 479-0729.

Kendall Jones, volunteer for MUST Ministries in Cherokee County, said the organization opened registration for its “Toy Shop” program last week, and registration will continue Monday through Friday, until Dec. 13, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Families in need can register their children who are 18-years-old or younger for the program, and then select toys to bring home for the holidays, Jones said.

“We don’t have everything we need,” Jones said Friday. “We’re really in need of toy donations. The ones for ages 13 to 18 are always the most difficult to get. Everyone always likes to buy stuffed animals and Candy Land, but it’s just harder to think about what you might get for a 13- to 18-year-old. So that’s always the area of greatest need.”

MUST Ministries is looking for new, unwrapped items for the program. For teenagers, MUST recommends items like sports equipment including balls, makeup kits, books, iPods, digital cameras, wallets and purses, teen clothing items, bath sets and toiletry kits, DVDs and bikes.

For children, MUST recommends donating new items, including dolls and Barbies of all ethnicities, dress-up kits, action figures, toy trucks or cars, riding toys like big-wheel bikes, skates, sports equipment, remote-controlled cars, books and bikes.

Along with toys, the ministry also asked for donations of new socks, underwear, boxers, batteries, throw blankets, scarves and gloves, school supplies, sleeping bags, family games, stocking stuffers and gifts for children to pick out for their parents.

Jones said MUST Ministries also has regular services available, including their food pantry, and the holiday season is the busiest time of the year.

“A lot of times around the holidays, people’s work schedules are cut back. So we see an increase in November and December, in addition to our holiday programs. We see the highest number of people needing our regular services,” Jones said. “Food is always appreciated because this is our heaviest time for food going out.”

Jones said between MUST Ministries’ Cherokee and Cobb county locations, the organization served around 3,800 children last year with the Toy Shop program, and this year he expects to serve at least that many, if not more.

Families can register for the Toy Shop program at the Canton MUST location, at 111 Brown Industrial Parkway. The Toy Shop event will take place at New Life Church at 154 Lakeside Drive in Canton.

“The toy shop will open Tuesday, Dec. 10, and run on various days, through Saturday, Dec. 21,” Jones said.

To register, a family member will need to bring a valid ID, proof of Cherokee County residence and valid IDs for children they would like to service. Valid IDs for children could be a Social Security card, birth certificate, medical insurance card or similar identification, Jones said.

Gift donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., until Friday Dec. 20, at the Canton location.

For more information, contact Paula Rigsby by email, at, or by phone, at (678) 218-4488.

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