Christmas cheer for needy kids

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Blake Bowden, Dec 27, 2009.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

    People filed into the Beloit Masonic Temple at 8 a.m. Sunday ready to wrap Christmas gifts for 48 underprivileged families as part of the Dads & Lads toy drive.

    Christmas music played and people chatted near the tables that were full of all types of gifts.

    Stuffed animals, Nerf guns, coloring books, sporting equipment, board games and baby dolls were common gifts.

    The annual Dads & Lads toy drive began more than 35 years ago and has continued growing bigger and bigger. Pat James and his wife, Barb, started the drive as a way of helping the less fortunate. He said this year’s drive has been especially important since there are many people out of work.

    “This is the worst economy I have ever seen,†he said. “There are many people out of work.â€

    Even with economic woes, there has been no shortage of support for the drive. James, the owner of the Dads & Lads Barbershop at 609 Blackhawk Blvd., South Beloit, said for the last two years an anonymous donor has left $500 in the drive donation jar. He called the person “a guardian angel.â€

    The toy drive provides gifts for 150 kids; about $100 is spent per kid.

    Pat James said the drive could not be possible without the Masonic Temple, which has donated $1,000 for next year’s toy drive already, and the South Beloit Lions Club which have been partners for the last several years.

    Jerry Miller, acting president for the South Beloit Lions Club, said many donations have come from local businesses and that the toy drive has had countless volunteers. The Lions Club is happy to be involved with the drive and has enjoyed working with Pat and Barb James.

    “We have just picked up where they have left off,†Miller said.

    The Lions Club will be running the drive in the future, but both Pat and Barb will continue to be involved in operations as a partnership with the Lions Club. When Pat and Barb started the drive, not having kids of their own, they wanted to help provide for less fortunate ones.

    Barb said the support for this year’s drive has been incredible.

    “We have a lot more help,†she said. “It has really worked out wonderful.â€

    Barb also agreed that this year’s is particularly important because of the increasing amount of needy families. Each family receives a $75 Walmart gift card, a family game, and case of soda pop. Last year the drive helped 30 families, this year there were 48 families. Pat said he would like to see the drive continue to expand.

    “Hopefully next year we do a lot more,†he said.

    Later Sunday afternoon the gifts were delivered to the needy families. Barb said the deliveries are overwhelming and it is wonderful to see the families receive the gifts.

    Matt Strand, Lions member, said Pat has built the drive to what it is today and that the volunteers have been amazing.

    “We couldn’t possibly staff this many people,†Strand said.

    Doughnuts, coffee and popcorn were served to volunteers. Several people wore Santa hats while people took pictures and assisted at other tables. Several Cub Scout and Girl Scout troops showed up to help with the wrapping.

    Miller said the event helped generate lots of holiday spirit.

    “If this doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit nothing will,†Miller said.

    Source: Beloit Daily News - your source for news, entertainment, sports, opinion, events, community, shopping and more > Archives > News > Local News > Christmas cheer for needy kids

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