The supplies are beginning to pile up in a corner of Margo Yates’s office, as they do every year. Community Christmas, an event under the Marion Chamber of Commerce umbrella, will go off without a hitch, Yates said.
As for the future of Community Christmas beyond when the chamber disbands Dec. 31, the supplies will continue to pile up as usual. Yates knows they will, she just doesn’t know whether it’ll be in the same corner of her office where they’ve been this time of year as far back as she can remember.
“We may have to make a few changes,” Yates said, “but we’ll keep it going.”
Shirley Groening of the Community Christmas committee said Yates is integral to the annual charity drive.
“She’s kind of our leader,” Groening said. “It’d be hard to do it without Margo’s help.”
Yates said it will be decided in January, once she officially becomes a city employee, how Community Christmas is to continue.
She emphasized that despite the chamber needing to make up a shortfall of several thousand dollars, the donations toward Community Christmas will not be used in any way to offset such a deficit.
“I just don’t want people to think the funding’s getting caught up in the retirement of the chamber because it’s not,” Yates said. “It’s completely separate, and it’s important that we keep helping folks. The committee enjoys it, and it’s a very rewarding project.”
Yates said about three dozen families will receive food boxes and toy Christmas gifts for children. An additional 12 to 20 families on average receive just food boxes.
“I wouldn’t still be doing it if it wasn’t worthwhile,” said Groening, who added she’s been on the committee for nearly 20 years. “It has changed a lot since I started, and I think all the changes are for the better. It’s a good group of people.”
Contributions to Community Christmas can be made through the purchase of gifts identified in “angels,” paper seraphs detailing a child’s age and gift desire, or through monetary donations.
“We always have bills at the end of it,” Yates said. “Most years we have people ask for help after we have distributed things. One year I had three phone calls at home on Christmas.”
One of the most rewarding aspects is giving to those who need help but were too proud to ask, Yates said.
“It’s hard for some people to ask for help,” Yates said, “but it’s a very rewarding thing for us to be able to offer help. We try to do that in such a way as not to offend anyone, but simply to let them know that we’d like to do this. It’s rewarding for us.”
Yates said those who want to donate can call her at (620) 382-3425 for ideas of how to help.
“Any gifts people want to give, we’re just extremely excited to see it,” Groening said.