This area has seen a resurgence of late that has failed so far to reach some of the most impoverished parts of the city, towns and villages. The yawning gap between the haves and have-nots is especially acute during holidays.
That economic gap widens among children whose families lack the resources to provide gifts and holiday meals. This is where the community must step in. The News Neediest Fund, in its 36th season, aims to close that economic gap by taking donations from what is a truly generous community. The aim is to ensure that children will have gifts under the Christmas tree – even that children whose families celebrate Christmas will have a tree.
Western New York has a strong tradition of digging deep to take care of their neighbors. This year’s drive has already begun with $56,000 in the bank. These were donations that came in response to advertisements in The Buffalo News, along with letters sent in October to annual donors across the country. Last year’s monetary donations totaled $176,000.
Donors have been reliable in providing gifts for the youngest children, but it is important not to forget those a little older, ages 8-12. Gifts for those children can include books, arts and crafts kits, board games, gift certificates, jewelry, hair accessories, DVDs, skateboards and video games.
Donations of gifts should be made by Dec. 8. Donations of cash will help to buy food for families so that they can have Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.
The News Neediest Fund is part of the Western New York Holiday Partnership, a collaboration of toy giveaway programs in Erie and Niagara counties. Nearly 10,000 children were Helped by the WNY Holiday Partnership in 2016. The cash donations fed more than 7,000 people.
The fund started in 1982 with the Salvation Army at its side from the beginning. Partners include the United Way, The Olmsted Center for Sight, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wegmans, Food Bank of Western New York, Fisher-Price, Benderson Development and the Marines Toys for Tots.
Among the sites accepting donations of unwrapped gifts are:
• The Buffalo News Lobby: Washington and Scott streets, downtown Buffalo, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
• Wegmans (toys only) at all locations in Erie and Niagara counties, 24 hours daily.
• Shea’s Performing Arts Center box office: Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., show times through intermission until Dec. 16.
• Erie County Fairgrounds Festival of Lights: Hamburg, Friday-Sunday 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 24 through Dec. 15.
• U.S. Marine Corps Reserve “Toys for Tots” donation locations: Buffalo-ny.toysfortots.org.
• Excuria Salon & Spa - 5725 Main St., Williamsville (during regular business hours).
• Canisius College Koessler Athletic Center - 1829 Main St., Buffalo.
• Hunt Real Estate Corp. Call prior to dropping toys off to verify hours of operation.
Cash donations may be made online at buffalonews.com/newsneediest or by mail to The News Neediest Fund, P.O. Box 2667, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240-9873. Buffalonews.com/newsneediest also provides a full list of gift ideas and places to drop them off.
For those needing help through the holidays, contact 2-1-1 or 888-696-9211 to get application and eligibility information, including required documentation. Applications are being accepted through Dec. 8. Those wishing to donate should also feel free to call.
The community has generously given millions of dollars toward this effort over the last 36 years. And in tough times, the community finds a way to give more. At this special time of the year it is even more important to let all children know that they, too, are special.