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Toys in the Pantry needs your help

Getting the toys organized for the Christmas season were Karen Richardson (front row, from left), Chauntelle Biagi-Bruer, Brenda Bartaluci (back row), Cathy Oliveri and Sue Moriarty.
Getting the toys organized for the Christmas season were Karen Richardson (front row, from left), Chauntelle Biagi-Bruer, Brenda Bartaluci (back row), Cathy Oliveri and Sue Moriarty.

GRANVILLE — It is another holiday year in a struggling economy in Putnam County. The Putnam County Rotary through the Putnam County Food Pantry are working to help area children whose Christmas may not be so bright this year under the annual event, Toys in the Pantry.

Toys in the Pantry works each holiday season to provide toys for children in Putnam County, so they may have toys under their tree on Christmas morning. Co-chairs of this endeavor are Cathy Oliveri and Chauntelle Biagi-Bruer. Both toys and monetary donations are accepted, Oliveri said.

“It’s always good to get the money, so we can get the toys to fit the kids,” she said. “However, local groups often donate toys. Every year the Republicans of Putnam County have their Christmas party, and they each bring a toy. Then they donate them to us, which is really nice. One year the sheriff’s department, instead of giving Christmas presents to each other, they gave that money to us.”

Oliveri said many businesses, local villages and organizations donate toys for the Toys in the Pantry each year. Many donate funds too. The group welcomes both.

“We take money 365 days a year,” Oliveri said.

The Putnam County Food Pantry reviews applications by families in the county to verify financial need. The families then submit a list of children and their ages along with some of their likes. Toys in the Pantry receives a coded list representing each child to maintain the individual family’s anonymity. The group can match donated toys or purchase toys for each child.

The group has one fundraiser each year — the annual pork chop dinner at the Clover Club. This year, Dollar General is collecting toys for the group. Kaddywampus hosted a game day in November with the requirement of donating a toy for attending.

All of the toys go out each year with the food baskets, which the Putnam County Food Pantry distributes. This year’s distribution date is Dec. 21 John Shimkus, one of the Food Pantry directors, said.

Oliveri explained when she started working with the group, she and the many volunteers helped set up toys on tables and furniture all around her home.

“We then went to my sister Linda’s basement for quite a few years,” she said. “Then when we moved into the big duplex; it was all down in our basement.”

After Head Start left the United Church of Christ location, Toys in the Pantry was offered the space to use. This is helpful because the Putnam County Food Pantry is run out of the church as well. At this time there are 167 children needing toys, but Oliveri said that number will surely grow as it gets closer to Christmas.

This year Advanced Logistics also donated toys. Tim Thompson of Granville who worked there talked to the company management, and they brought over two huge trailers of toys.

“There will be a sled for every family, thanks to them,” Oliveri said.

Forms to apply have been in the Putnam County Record. Donations can be sent to Toys in the Pantry, P.O. Box 247, Granville, IL 61326.

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