(Oct. 30, 2020) Looking to streamline efforts but maintain maximum impact next month, the Kiwanis Club of Greater Ocean Pines-Ocean City will combine its annual toy and coat drives this holiday season.
Marketing Chairman Dave Landis said the charity drives have been modified because of covid-19, with Kiwa nis members collecting donations in the parking lot of the Ocean Pines Community Center on Wednesdays in November from 9 a.m. to noon.
“We’ll all be wearing masks,” he said.
The club is hoping contributors will drive in and drop off generosity in the form of Christmas gifts for children or winter coats for the young and old.
“This year we’re going to have our coat drive running simultaneously,” he said. “Normally we do them at different times so that we’re not trying to double dip the public.”
Landis said after club members encountered difficulties staging the coat drive in October, the group opted to roll the events together.
“You can’t keep a good club down,” he said.
Landis has overseen the group’s longstanding holiday toy collection for the last handful of years, with assistance from his wife, and Kiwanis supporter, Rita.
“We’ve been doing those toy drives down there for years now,” he said.
All unwrapped gifts are given to support the larger campaign conducted by Worcester GOLD (Giving Other Lives Dignity).
“They help to spread more toys to more kids,” he said.
Prior to 2020, Kiwanis members would bring unwrapped gift donations along during organizational meetings, which have been temporarily halted, before soliciting public support.
“Because we’re not having meetings, our club members will come to the … community center parking lot to bring us some gifts,” he said.
Christmas items are being sought for diverse ages.
“From little kids, infants and toddlers up to teenage kids,” he said. “We try to cover the whole gamut.”
Landis said the annual collection tends to skew younger, with a smaller percentage of donations for juveniles in the double-digit range.
“They’ll have stuffed toys, books, puzzles, games and coloring books,” he said. “Anything in the world you can think of that a kid would want for Christmas.”
Although slightly delayed, yet still on time for pending winter conditions, the Kiwanis annual coat drive will occur in conjunction with the toy collection.
Landis said coat drive co-chairs Susan Wineke and Kitty Wrench will again oversee the effort.
“We’re collecting lightly used coats and some people give new,” he said. “Next week I’ll go over there for collection of the toys and Sue and Kitty will be over there for collection of the coats.”
Landis credited Rita, who again backed her husband’s charitable venture, for preemptively starting an outwear collection during close-out sales last winter.
“We have about 12 or 15 coats to get us started already,” he said. “We just put them in boxes and store it in our attic until it’s time.”
In past years, the drive has pulled in upwards of 100 coats for eventual distribution to in-need adults and children, with the bulk sent to the Joseph House in Salisbury, and a smaller contingent earmarked for St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Ocean City.
“This year, because we’re not sure how many we’ll get, the main focus will go to Joseph House and if there any more left then we’ll get them to St. Peters,” he said.
Landis said the group’s coat drive began in 2014 in anticipation of Kiwanis 100th anniversary celebrations the following year.
“The first time we ever did a coat drive, we had a challenge from the Delmar Club,” he said.
After accepting the invitation to collect 100 coats for the needy from the Greater Millsboro Kiwanis Club the, charity-focused competition convened in December 2014, with Worcester GOLD designated as recipient.
“We had a challenge between two clubs and we blew them away,” he said.
Altogether, 176 winter coats were collected during the inaugural run of what has become an annual tradition.
“All of these things we put some budget up from the club so they can get seed money to get things started,” he said. “We want to make it Christmas for everybody if we can.”