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Goal of toy drive is to bring Christmas cheer to youngsters

Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic Readiness to Learn caseworkers are all about helping families in need. This Christmas season they are seeking to provide toys for children in the community.

"There are seven of us and we realize there is a great need among the families we serve this Christmas," said Zillah case manager Sylvia Ward.

She said each year the case managers look for ways in which they might better serve the families under their care.

"Last year we had a coat drive, but this year we wanted to do something different and Jessica (Prieto) thought it would be good to have a toy drive," shared Ward.

Prieto said the Readiness to Learn program serves families throughout Yakima County. There is a case manager in each of the school districts throughout the Lower Valley, as well as one in White Swan.

She works with families in Mabton and said there are a number of homeless, single-parent households and migrant families that benefit from services provided by Readiness to Learn.

"This is the time of year when people want to open their hearts to those in need," said Ward, stating the toy drive planned for Saturday, Dec. 12, is a way for community members to help others.

Prieto said, "The goal is to distribute toys to families so that the children don't go without gifts for Christmas."

She said the donated toys will be divided among the case workers, who serve Toppenish, Zillah, Granger, Mabton, Grandview and White Swan.

Sunnyside is currently without a case manager, but Prieto said families in crisis situations in the Sunnyside School District can call Lisa Schmitt at Northwest Community Action Center at 509-865-7630 to see how they might qualify for the program.

Ward shared the types of toys being sought for the toy drive. She said the toys need to be safe, with few small parts.

"We don't know the ages of the potential recipients, so we need to make sure to prevent choking hazards," she said, adding educational toys would be appreciated due to the belief that learning opportunities can be created with them.

The pair said community members donating the toys can bring them unwrapped, but, if the donor prefers to wrap the toys, it is best that there be an unsealed edge for the purpose of determining the type and age appropriateness of the toy.

Prieto said those contributing to the toy drive can also refer a family to the case managers. All seven case managers will be present during the toy drive.

Readiness to Learn currently serves approximately 750 families throughout Yakima County.

The toy drive will be at Sunnyside's Columbia River Bank across from Wal-Mart from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 12. The Sunnyside's Promise wagon will also be at the event.

"This is a way in which the community can come together, serving the needs of those less fortunate," said Prieto.

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