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Giving hearts, willing hands needed this holiday season

You don’t have to look far to find families in need this holiday season. But while applications are pouring in from families requesting assistance, money is harder to come by.

Just ask Sheila Haigler, coordinator of Maplesville’s Toys for Kids, which provides Christmas gifts to underprivileged children.

“I think we are getting in more applications this year than we did last year,” Haigler said Friday. “The money has been slower coming in.”

On average, the group helps more than 125 children per year. They accept financial donations, new and slightly used toys, and volunteers who donate time to shop and sort toys.

Families may submit applications to request assistance through Nov. 25 by 4 p.m. Applications must be turned in to Haigler, who also serves as town clerk, at Maplesville Town Hall.

Haigler echoed the compassion of the group’s founder, former Maplesville mayor the late George Smith.

“He hated to see children wake up on Christmas morning without any toys,” she said. “We have continued this work for the same purpose.”

The group coordinates with other local charities like Operation: Santa Claus, sponsored by the Chilton County Fraternal Order of Police.

John Shearon, coordinator of Operation: Santa Claus, said this year’s goal is $10,000. The charity helps 300 to 400 kids each year.

“This year the economy’s so tough. I know we are going to have an abundance of applications,” he said.

While the application deadline has passed, fundraising events are planned for the coming weeks. On Nov. 27, volunteers will be “bagging for tips” at Fred’s in Clanton, and on Dec. 5, Santa will pose for pictures at the Clanton Fire Department.

“We just want to help as many of the county’s underprivileged children as we can,” Shearon said.

To donate to Operation: Santa Claus, contact Shearon at 755-6261 or Sgt. Warren Garris at 755-4698.

To donate or volunteer for Toys for Kids, contact Haigler at (334) 366-4211.