OSCEOLA COUNTY — To some folks, it may seem a bit early to be talking about Christmas.

To a group of dedicated volunteers throughout Osceola County, however, now is the time things get busy.

Members of the Gifts For Kids organizing committee have been meeting and planning ways to make the holiday better and more meaningful for hundreds of area residents going through hard times.

The group met in August to review last year’s efforts, and to discuss how the Gifts For Kids outreach can be more efficient and effective this year — reaching all those in need so that no one in Osceola County is forgotten at Christmas time.

Committee members are anxious to get the word out.

Folks need to register soon in order to take part in the Gifts For Kids outreach. Registration will begin Monday, Oct. 17 with Love Inc and Baker College once again handling the sign-up effort.

This year’s Gifts For Kids holiday distribution will take place at Evart Middle School, in the gymnasium, with crews setting up on Friday, Dec. 9, and participating families arriving Saturday, Dec. 10, to go ‘shopping’ for everything they need to make a child’s Christmas a little brighter.

Despite what some may think, time is short.

And this year, the need is greater than ever before.

More and more children throughout Osceola County are facing a less than exciting Christmas holiday season.

Parents have lost jobs or are working fewer hours.

Prices of just about everything have been going up with little relationship to the realities of life.

It could be a rather bleak Christmas for some.

Or ...

Folks around Osceola County can help make Christmas a little happier and a bit more meaningful by once again taking part in the county-wide Gifts for Kids program.

There is still time to take part.

Gifts for children of all ages are being accepted and collected at sites throughout the county including many churches, a wide range of businesses, and through civic and fraternal group efforts.

For example, in Evart members of the Evart Order of the Eastern Star will once again be working with the team at the Corner Cupboard Restaurant in organizing the Evart Giving Tree.

Each year, hundreds of gift items are left under the gaily decorated tree located in the restaurant and collected and transported to the distribution site by Eastern Star ladies.

The Giving Tree is a long standing tradition in Evart and has helped make Christmas a happier occasion for thousands of youngsters in need.

In Reed City, a number of churches and businesses will be offering their services as collection sites for toys and other gift and food items.

One central location will be the offices of the Pioneer- Osceola Edition, located at 211 West Upton, in the downtown business district. Gifts will be accepted on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Pioneer office.

Other locations for toy, gift and food collections during the holiday seasons will be listed in this newspaper in weeks to come.

Toys and gift items should be new and unwrapped so that they can be sorted and distributed to the right age group of children.

Food items offered at collection sites should not include home-baked or home-canned goods.

Don’t miss out on a chance to reach out to neighbors going through tough times during this holiday season.

Give to Gifts for Kids and make a real difference in the life of an Osceola County family.

For more information, contact Nancy Lentz, Community Resource Coordinator with the Department of Human Services 231 796-4312.

The next meeting of the Gifts For Kids committee will be held Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 2 p.m. at the MichiganWorks office on East Church Street in Reed City. More groups and individuals are always welcome to take on an active role with the planning committee or the distribution effort.