A lone Elmo toy sits in a trailer at Integrity Communications in Gardner. A group is collecting toys to give to local families this Christmas. The toys are being stored in a trailer at Integrity Communications. People can also donate toys and gifts through the annual Mayors Christmas for Children program. Submitted photo

Danedri Thompson
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At least two different groups are working to insure that Gardner and Edgerton kids won’t go without Christmas gifts this year.
One, is the well-known, Mayor’s Christmas Tree program, through which groups, families and individuals can adopt a child to provide gifts.
The other is a private group which typically collects toys locally to provide for those in disaster-strewn areas.
For example, several years ago, they took a trailer full of toys to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
This year, however, the toys collected will remain in the Gardner-Edgerton area.
Donnalee Stevens, who has assisted in organizing a toy drive at Christmas time for the last several years, said this community has always responded when asked to help.
“Our community has just always said yes,” Stevens said. “We just want to honor that and give back.”
Currently, Stevens and other volunteers are partnering with Indian Creek Church and Mission Southside to gather toys for local families in need. They’re also partnering with other churches and schools to determine where exactly the need is.
The goal of the toy drive is to allow the parents to select free gifts for their children.
While Stevens said giving children Christmas gifts is meaningful, this mission is
really for the parents.
“It’s just devastating when you can’t afford to give Christmas gifts to your kids,” Stevens said. “I’ve been there. My heart is just really for the parents.”
Those who want to give can stop by Integrity Communications, 408 E. Main St., Gardner, during regular business hours to drop off toys.
Or, Stevens said volunteers will come pick up toys at local homes as well. To set up a pick up time, call Donnalee at (913)749-3471; or Jim at (913) 749-3475; or Teresa at (913)709-8072.
Cash donations for the Mayor’s Christmas for Children Fund are accepted at city hall.
Donations can also be mailed to city hall at 120 E. Main Street, Gardner.
For questions about the Mayor’s Christmas for Children program, call (913)856-7535.