Tonawanda News — Skies are still sunny and snow has not yet made its appearance, but the Tonawandas have already started to acquire that little bit of something extra for the holidays.
Toy collection bins for the annual Rockin’ With Santa campaign are now out at local businesses, said John White, organizer of the 12-year-old campaign, which collects and distributes toys for families in need across the region, culminating in the annual Rockin’ With Santa music event.
White said the campaign seeks to provide some Christmas magic for children in 140 families this year, an increase from previous year’s events. Names of those families in need of assistance are provided through the YWCA of the Tonawandas and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and many individuals and groups throughout the area help with the event, he said.
”You have the community involved, people in the community, the business community involved, and groups like the Exchange Club and the Zonta Club,” he said. “It’s a big community-involvement miracle, really. It really is.”
Rita Alviti, who with Karen Szafran is one of the outreach coordinators at St. Vincent DePaul, said that need is “absolutely up this year.”
“As far as Thanksgiving goes, we already have a lot more (who need assistance) than last year, and Christmas will be a lot more than that,” she said, adding that heating bills are up, gas costs are up for those who have a car — and bus travel is more expensive and complicated as fares go up and routes go down.
While Rockin’ With Santa makes it possible for families to have a few gifts under the tree, it also frees up groups like St. Vincent de Paul to focus on clothing for the entire family and food for all ages. Need is also up for the elderly, Alviti said. Anyone who would like to donate time and/or items for any age group can call 693-6247 for more information.