(Jan. 10, 2020) Worcester County has proven to be generous this holiday season, with hundreds upon hundreds of toys donated and funds provided for families in need.
Ocean City Police Department:
In 2019, the Ocean City Police Department collected toys for Worcester County G.O.L.D. for the fourth consecutive year.
“We had an overabundance of toys donated for the Helping Hands toys drive benefiting Worcester G.O.L.D.,” Ocean City Police Department Communications Manager Ashley Miller said. “The toy drive was a success this year. It was a heartwarming feeling walking into the front lobby of the Public Safety Building and seeing the pile of toys grow almost every day.”
There were so many, in fact, that Miller struggled to tally the overall amount.
“With the amount of toys we’ve collected, we filled the entire back and side compartment of the [police department paddy] wagon,” Miller said. “We even had toys up in the front of the [police van] wedged between Officer Gavin Kinzer and myself.”
There was a wide assortment of toys to choose from, so Worcester G.O.L.D. could select the best options for its families, Miller said.
“You were able to tell that the movie ‘Frozen’ was a hit this year. We received a lot of different styles of ‘Frozen’ toys,” she said. “We found the retro version of board games interesting. Not only are you passing along a board game that you might have fond memories of, but having the retro style made it feel more personal.”
All toys were provided to Worcester County G.O.L.D. as part of its “Helping Hands for the Holidays” program. In 2018, this program ensured that 724 Worcester County children had toys to open during the holiday season.
Worcester County G.O.L.D.:
Worcester County G.O.L.D. (Giving Other Lives Dignity) thanks the community for its support during the annual “Helping Hands for the Holidays” initiative.
The program served more than 792 residents in Worcester County during the 2018 holiday season. In 2019, it was able to provide toys and supplies for 732 residents, comprised of 351 families, that included 652 children and 80 vulnerable adults.
“This year we had an abundance of just overly generous gifts from the community,” Worcester G.O.L.D. Executive Director Sandy Sipes said. “Much of this was through general donations from different organizations and individuals and also money provided by the community, and we’re thrilled.”
Sipes said more than 150 toys alone were provided by the Ocean City Police Department.
Because G.O.L.D. is such a small nonprofit with low overhead cost, 92 cents of every dollar that the organization receives goes directly back into the community for emergency services.
Each sponsor is matched with a child or family before Worcester G.O.L.D. gives them information on what the children are hoping to receive for Christmas, or the needs of an elderly resident.
The families in need are referred to Worcester County G.O.L.D. by a local agency such as the health department or social services before they fill out a form, which provides gift ideas and clothing sizes for their sponsors.
“Worcester County G.O.L.D. is a very small organization and we depend on volunteers and sponsors from the community,” Sipes said. “We only have two full-time employees and it’s with the help from our community that we can sponsor and help the number of people that we do. It’s just heartwarming to see the outpouring assistance for those who need a helping hand during the holidays.”
Monetary or gift card donations are needed to provide for people not matched directly with a supporter. Donations can be made through PayPal at worcestergold.org or checks can be sent directly to Worcester County G.O.L.D., P.O. Box 39, Snow Hill, Maryland 21863.
“Eleven percent of Worcester County citizens live in below poverty conditions,” Sipes said. “The thing is, that could be anyone. That could be me tomorrow. So many people live paycheck to paycheck, and if they get sick or something happens, it can put them into quite a financial difficulty and it’s no fault of their own.”
Anyone interested in sponsoring a child or senior can call G.O.L.D. at 410-677-6830 or sign up using the electronic form on worcestergold.org.
Worcester G.O.L.D. is a nonprofit that has provided financial aid to families in crisis, vulnerable adults and children in foster care since 1996.
Sipes encourages community members to share information and posts about the nonprofit on Facebook by searching “Worcester GOLD.” There are also sponsorship forms on the organization’s Facebook page.
Toys for Tots:
In 2019, the U.S Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program distributed 4,818 toys to 4,054 children locally. In addition, the organization gave out 3,362 stocking stuffers and 1,220 books.
Toys are typically delivered to children in Ocean City, Berlin, Ocean Pines, Bethany Beach, Dagsboro, Frankford, Selbyville, Dewey Beach and a number of other surrounding towns.
“Every year appears to exceed the last as folks become more aware of the needs of children in our communities,” local Toys for Tots Coordinator John Lowery said. “The league is all volunteers, so it’s just an amazing effort that people continually support us.”
Last year, the U.S Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program distributed 8,494 toys to 4,248 children locally.
The first Toys for Tots program was conducted in Los Angeles in 1947 and in 2019, more than 700 campaigns took place throughout the United States.