Woodward, Okla. —
Volunteers aplenty came to the fairgrounds Saturday morning to help out with the Woodward County Toy Giveaway - the program created in 1981 by the New Horizon Methodist Church men's group to serve underprivileged children in Woodward.
The toy giveaway has grown from a few men in pickups delivering polished up used toys, to a large volunteer organization arranging piles of new gifts for needy families to come and choose for their children. This year, the organization expects to provide gifts for nearly 700 children.
Volunteer Pat Whitcomb, who has helped since the beginning of the toy giveaway can attest to just how much progress the organization has made.
"I started helping the group in 1981 as a gofer," Whitcomb said. "My husband Merril was a member of the men's group that put it together. He says he can remember counting the pieces of used puzzles to make sure all the pieces were in the box."
Volunteer David Hughes has been involved for nearly 30 years and continues to enjoy helping.
"It's been a great journey. In the beginning we accepted used toys and we'd spend our time cleaning them up to make them look presentable, but thankfully because of donations we finally reached a point where we're able to provide kids with new toys," Hughes said. "To have something new is wonderful, and while many of these kids would be happy and grateful to receive any gifts, we're happy we can provide them with something nice."
Whitcomb added, "We're happy we get a chance to make sure kids get something for Christmas that makes them feel worthwhile."
There were several new faces at the fairgrounds to help set things up.
"Its' our first year to help with the toy giveaway," said Macy Turnbo alongside her friend Kirstyn Swindel.
The two high school sophomores from Woodward said t hey learned about the group through their participation in the National Honor Society and decided to come out and volunteer.
"We just like helping the community," Swindel said.
Sydney Crossland and her brother Jacob are also fairly new to the toy giveaway, this being their second year to volunteer.
"We like to help people anyway we can," Crossland said.
This was also Dorothy Benz's first year to assist.
"I just read about it in the paper the other day, called Mike Habekott to see how I could help, and he told me to come on down," Benz said. "Think how many kids we're helping! Its a good feeling to be able to walk away and think to yourself, 'I helped someone today.'"
Benz said she is planning to make the toy giveaway an annual project.