Saturday, December 09, 2006

Toy Drive for Boys and Girls Clubs

Toy campaign will benefit Boys, Girls Clubs in Mississippi
Beth Duckett
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 9, 2006 12:00 AM PHOENIX - A local woman created a campaign this week that will offer alittle holiday cheer to needy children living near the coast of Mississippi.
When Suzanne Stahl of Phoenix discovered that several Boys & Girls Clubs along the hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast had no gifts for their children this season, she had to take action. Many of these children lost their homes, even their families, to Hurricane Katrina and rely on the clubs for support and a helping hand, she said.
Stahl has set up several sites around the Valley where local residents can drop off new, unwrapped toys that will be shipped directly to the clubs. The sites will be accepting donations until Wednesday, Stahl said. The clubs need at least 1,200 toys and have until Dec. 15 before they begin distribution, but donations will continue to be accepted for thousands of other victim families in need of toys this season, Stahl said.
"I know from spending the holidays down there last year that, for many of the children, the gifts that came from around the country became the light that 'lit (their) way,' " she said. Games, puzzles, trucks, dolls, sports toys, purses and makeup cases are just some of the toys being requested. The children range in age from 5 to 18, Stahl said. "Any new, age-appropriate gift would be wonderful for a kid who has lost everything," she said.
Stahl is a volunteer for a non-profit organization called Hands on GulfCoast. She spent seven months along side hundreds of volunteers in Biloxi,Miss., mending the devastation that was left in the wake of the 2005 hurricane. Besides working with children, Stahl posted 2,600 new street signs, cleaned cemeteries and rebuilt homes.
"Somehow over the past 16 months the extraordinary has become the ordinary," she said. "My life and heart have become permanently en- twined with the residents and survivors."
For information, go to www.handsongulfcoast.org or e-mail Stahl at suzanneinmississippi@earthlink.net.

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