Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Helping Hands Busy with Toy Donations

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Helping Hands Busy with Toy Donations

Article excerpt

Four-year-old Clayton Lovelace gently placed the decorated Christmas stocking on the table in the echoing atrium at Mandarin Christian Church Tuesday.

Then his mother, Darlene, gave more wrapped gifts to volunteer Lynn Bledsoe as part of the church's week-long Christmas Wish List donation program.

The Lovelaces were just two of the hundreds of people who donated new bicycles, video games and box upon box of clothes to the church this week. And this morning, other church members were set to deliver them directly to almost 1,200 needy or ill children all over Jacksonville.

For Clayton, it was the right thing to do for Christmas.

"I like them," he said, then hugged his mother.

"Christmas is all about children and sharing and giving," added Darlene Lovelace.

The church at 6045 Greenland Road will deliver gifts to clients at 12 churches and agencies as varied as the YWCA, Safe Harbor Boys Home, Dreams Come True and Nemours Children's Clinic.

Pastor Dennis Bratton said the idea to collect new toys and clothes for the needy of Mandarin and elsewhere in the city was started by church members 10 years ago. Since then, it has grown from serving about 50 children to 1,163 this year.

"I feel very excited and very proud of our families," Bratton said. "It really has grown in a lot of ways. The first year, we had 50 children we adopted."

Many gifts will go to 500 children served by the YWCA, which helps low-income and homeless women and families at 11 sites around Jacksonville. Director Pat Hannan said it was the third year the church made them part of the wish list.

"They do get the children what they wish for within reason, and some things for the parents also," she said. "They are probably our biggest contributor during the holidays, and it is a most generous community . . . We rely on them every year, and every year they never let us down."

The children were chosen by the agencies in August based on need. Some are terminally ill and some have family problems.

The children's names and needs were put on individual wish list forms, then given to church members. …

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