SERVE nears end of holiday toy drive

Callaway Action Network director happy with turnout, expects to deliver many toys for Christmas

(From left to right) Michael Bainbridge, Fulton firefighter and secretary and treasurer of the Union of Fulton Professional Firefighters, and Merit McLeod, Fulton firefighter and president of the union, sort through the fire department's donation of toys at Westminster College's Mueller Center on Tuesday. The firefighters collected about 150 toys to donate to SERVE, Inc.

(From left to right) Michael Bainbridge, Fulton firefighter and secretary and treasurer of the Union of Fulton Professional Firefighters, and Merit McLeod, Fulton firefighter and president of the union, sort through the fire department's donation of toys at Westminster College's Mueller Center on Tuesday. The firefighters collected about 150 toys to donate to SERVE, Inc. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

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Nancy Rice, SERVE, Inc. volunteer, tosses makeup into a basket while organizing donations on Tuesday at Westminster College's Mueller Student Center for the SERVE Christmas drive.

The Mueller Student Center at Westminster College is filled with rows of toys, warm winter clothes and items to make Christmas in Callaway County a bit better for low-income families.

With two days left until distribution begins, Julie Roark, Callaway Action Network director at SERVE, Inc., said there is not much left to collect — 270 of the 700 wish lists are left to be consolidated from what sits in the Mueller Student Center. If there’s any doubt a wish won’t be granted this Christmas, Roark was confident the community will fill the need.

“Oddly enough we always have what we need, and if we don’t that door will open and there it will come,” Roark said. “That’s what happens to us every year. I don’t think we’re in this alone.”

The Fulton Fire Department dropped off about 150 toys on Tuesday to the Mueller Center.

With a truck donated from Fulton Ford, the fire department was able to collect most of those toys during the Fulton Jaycees Christmas Parade on Saturday. Merit McLeod, Fulton firefighter and president of the Fulton Professional Firefighters Union, said the generosity of Fulton residents made it possible for the department to donate as much as they did. The union also donated $100 to SERVE, Inc.’s meal program.

Looking at the plentiful Mueller Center, Roark expressed her gratitude.

“We’re very grateful we’ve had the community response to make this room full for those families who are in need,” Roark said.

The gifts — about six or seven per child, Roark said — will be distributed on Friday and Monday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The most impactful thing is knowing these kids are not going to go empty handed at Christmas time … I think we’re giving a lot of hope,” Roark said.

For more information, contact SERVE, Inc. at 573-642-6388 or Julie Roark at can@serveinc.net.

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