Where are you going to give this season?

These were the only dolls left and there are weeks to go to fill Toys for Tots orders in central Florida.
These were the only dolls left and there are weeks to go to fill Toys for Tots orders in central Florida.

As a journalist, I often find myself in the tough situation of deciding what causes and stories are more important — especially during the holiday season.

There are requests everywhere for donations and help — from Toys for Tots, to my work Christmas Emergency Fund, United Way, food banks, even the Michael J Fox Foundation and so many more. Everyone has causes near and dear to their hearts, and it’s hard every day — but even more so during the holidays — to find the time and money to help out as much as you can.

As an editor, there are a lot of stories that we just don’t have the time or resources to tell. I was truly reminded of that this past week visiting home.

Dad is obviously really involved in a lot of efforts around Winter Haven, not just Parkinson’s research and awareness. He and Emily have often volunteered time and money to the local Toys for Tots. While at home, Dad and I swung by the local Toys for Tots location to see what the Lake Ashton community should do with the $2,000 it raised for them. The site was almost unbearable.

Each child gets one stuffed toy and something to share this Christmas in Winter Haven's Toys for Tots.
Each child gets one stuffed toy and something to share this Christmas in Winter Haven’s Toys for Tots.

We asked the organizers what they needed. Aside from simply saying everything, there were some heartbreaking answers — stuffed toys, dolls, and items for kids under 18 months were the top three.

On one half of the warehouse, there were bags everywhere. Black trash bags filled for schools, churches and individuals needing this holiday season. The other half, long rolls of paper marked with what toys should be there: dolls, trucks, Barbies, games, etc. And many of those areas were empty.

In fact, in the Winter Haven area, the need has grown so large that Toys for Tots is only able to give one stuffed animal/doll and one toy to share for each child. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to only get two gifts for Christmas.

We all have our causes and limits to what we can give. My family often asks you to help us as we help search for a cure for Parkinson’s. But this holiday season, I ask that you just give in whatever way you can. To our cause if you want, or a toy or hot meal to someone in need.

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