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Holiday toy and food drive is now underway

Donations being accepted by The United Way

It’s not too early to start thinking about helping less fortunate children this Christmas — or to sign up for help if needed.

A toy drive for kids in the state’s custody has started taking donations and the United Way’s Annual Holiday Toy and Food Distribution started accepting sign-ups for toys today.

The United Way will be holding the food distribution and the toy drive on separate days in different places.

Registration to receive a toy started today and runs until Oct. 30. To register, visit or call 304-296-7525. Those who fill out the form will be given a time to pick up the toys  at Christian Help on Walnut Street.

The food drive will be held 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Dec. 4 at the former Ramada Inn, off Scott Avenue. It will be drive-through only and volunteers will load groceries into the vehicles.

“We felt it was so important to still have the distribution this year, especially because people are struggling with this pandemic,” said Janette Lewis, community impact director for the United Way. “We want to give everyone the best holiday possible, and making sure they have something to eat and toys to give the kids this year is a priority for us.” 

Anyone with questions about either distribution can call the United Way at 304-296-7525.

A toy drive to help kids in foster care started accepting donations in early October — a month earlier than last year — because fewer people are coming in and out of the Justice Center, Esha Sharma, the drive’s organizer, said.

The toys will be distributed by the Department of Health and Human Resources who know where they’re most needed, she said.

The DHHR has to deal with a lot and any help is appreciated, Sharma said. Last year’s drive was a “big hit.”

Sharma started the drive last year because she noticed the need when she started as a law clerk at the courthouse. She said the majority of the circuit court’s docket is abuse and neglect cases because, unfortunately, so many children need removed from their homes.

Over the past several years the opioid epidemic has created a “very large need,” she said.

The drive is accepting toys for newborns to 18-year-olds. The toys need to be unwrapped and can be dropped off on the first floor of the Monongalia County Justice Center.

Sharma also created an Amazon wish list this year so those who don’t feel comfortable shopping or dropping the toys off can still participate. The wish list can be viewed at

Donations are being accepted until Dec. 14.

Sharma can be reached at 304-291-7165.

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