Gifts for Kids provides Christmas for local families

EVART — More than 220 Osceola County families in need were able to shop for Christmas presents and other necessities during the annual Gifts for Kids event, which took place on Saturday at Evart Middle School.

Gifts for Kids is hosted by Mecosta Osceola County Department of Humans Services and Love Inc. of Osceola County which provides presents for the holidays. The organizations partner with area churches and food pantries. During the event, families visit tables determined by age group and choose one gift per child. Board games, socks and underwear, small household appliances, blankets, laundry necessities, winter accessories and a table of free items also were offered. Once families had chosen their items, free gift wrapping was available.

John Klever, community resource coordinator for DHS in Mecosta and Osceola counties, said the event ran smoothly.

"It feels great to help so many people," he said while surveying the tables of shoppers. "It's nice to see the community band together like this and support each other."

Volunteers from Reed City's St. Paul's Lutheran Church manned a table of gifts for children which the congregation collected in the past few weeks. The table was stacked with gifts for girls and boys ages 8 to 12 years old.

"We have a church that's very generous," said pastor Dawn Pooley. "We're happy to do this because we know people are really strapped. It gives us a good feeling to help others have a good Christmas."

Church member Patti Sheldon was enjoying her first time volunteering at Gifts for Kids.

"What I like about this event is people can come through and pick out something with their child in mind," she said. "As a parent, I think that would be a blessing to me."

Evart residents Ronald and Gail Agar browsed each table searching for the perfect item for their 10-year-old grandchild. Both have only positive things to say about Gifts for Kids.

"It's a lot of fun," Gail said. "It's really good that this event happens for people who can't afford Christmas. I think our grandson will be thrilled with what we picked out."