Oblivious to her surroundings, a five-year-old little girl runs happily across the dusty front yard. She is clutching a doll tight against her chest. She got "her baby" from Santa last Christmas thanks to the Toys for Tots program at the Putnam County Senior Center.
The center has bags of toys ready for distribution to families who need help. Each parent can pick one bag per child and grandparents can get one bag total beginning Nov. 17. There is no cost for the bags.
"This is such a great program," said Putnam County Senior Center Director Jim Stevens. "There are a lot of kids who might not have anything if it weren't for this program."
Items are collected at the senior center all year long and bags are prepared and stored ready for distribution from the middle of November to the middle of December.
There are over 37 million poor hidden in our land of plenty. That is 12.7 percent of our population. While most Americans seem to have always believed that hard work will bring rewards, vast numbers cannot meet their bills even with two or three jobs.
More than one in 10 citizens live below the poverty line and the gap is widening between the haves and have nots.
Last year over 350 bags of toys were distributed to families. So far this year the Senior Center workers have prepared 200 bags and have plenty of toys to build more as they are needed.
Jeri Cummings works at the Senior Center three days a week. Although she has only been there a short while, she is impressed with the programs offered to Putnam County families and seniors.
"We try to spread around the bags to as many people as possible. It's such a nice program," said Cummings.
Jackie Young can be found many days working at the Senior Center. She is the person behind sorting and filling many of the bags of toys.
"We haven't had much time this year to fill as many. I know last year we gave out over 300. But, we have plenty of toys ready to go," she said.
Toys are sorted by age and gender except for newborn items.
"We try to put a couple of books, a stuffed animal and a toy appropriate for either a boy or girl in each bag," she explained.
"We're ready for people to start picking them up," she added.
The Toys for Tots bags can be picked up free of charge at the Senior Center beginning Nov. 17 on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is also a food pantry and clothing store available at the Center.