BERLIN – Volunteers with Worcester County G.O.L.D. spent nine hours on Giving Tuesday outside the Atlantic Hotel, where they collected toys and monetary donations for the organization’s “Helping Hands for the Holidays” program.
Outside the hotel, volunteers took turns accepting donations throughout the day and loading the new toys into a 1969 Subaru 360 pickup, donated by Michael Braun, which they displayed on the front sidewalk.
“The Atlantic Hotel was wonderful in letting us park the truck here and set up on their porch,” President Carol Jacobs said.
In their own version of “Stuff the Truck,” Executive Director Claire Otterbein said participants donated dolls, board games, basketballs and other sports equipment.
One contributor, Joy Bloodsworth, came with bags full of toys.
“It’s just a pleasure,” she said. “I enjoy doing it.”
In addition to toys, Otterbein said the drive also received monetary donations and money from raffle ticket sales, in which the winner receives an American Girl doll. However, she made no mention of a specific amount.
Currently, Worcester County G.O.L.D. is partnering with the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore’s “Shore Gives More” campaign to raise money for “Helping Hands.”
The online campaign gathers local charities in the tri-county region and encourages the community to support its participants.
While at the toy drive, volunteers received a check from Delmarva Power in the amount of $250. According to the foundation, the non-profit was the first Worcester County “Shore Gives More” charity to receive a donation on Giving Tuesday.
The online campaign runs through Dec. 2, but Otterbein also encourages community members to complete a child’s Christmas list.
“What we really need are people who are willing to sponsor a child, She said. “We are seeing a lot more need.”
Otterbein said the organization is currently providing gifts for 562 children this year, but expects that number to rise in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Hans Zieger, a coordinator with the program, said they will take referrals through the end of November. But Otterbein said “Helping Hands” will take last minute referrals the week before Christmas, a process which could add 100 additional children.
Worcester County G.O.L.D., a non-profit organization that provides financial support to county citizens, will take on additional cases this season.
“We are taking on an extra load this year because of Santa House,” Zieger said.
Earlier this year, officials with the Santa House announced their plans to suspend operations through the 2016 holiday season to find more suitable housing for donated toys, food and clothing.
The Santa House has helped 20,244 children, 8,275 families and 779 elderly citizens with contributions gathered from the community since its start in the 1990s.
Now, Worcester County G.O.L.D. and other organizations in the tri-county area are looking to support more local families in Santa House’s absence.
“A lot of new people are seeking help,” Otterbein said. “Our numbers are significantly up in terms of need.”
Those interested in sponsoring a child can call Worcester County G.O.L.D. at 410-677-6830 or visit the “Events” section on worcestergold.org and complete the electronic form provided.
The Ocean City Police Department will also donate toys to the “Helping Hands” program and are accepting new gifts and monetary donations in the lobby of the Public Safety Building in Ocean City until Dec. 13.