Hundreds of Schoharie County kids will go without on Christmas morning unless the public helps.
Collecting gift cards and money for those children and families is the goal of the Community-Wide Christmas Collaboration, but so far, it's slow going.
The Collaboration is less than half way to its goal of $27,000.
Now in its third year, the Collaboration is a holiday alliance of Head Start, SALT, SCCAP, Catholic Charities, Community Maternity Services and Cobleskill-Richmondville schools.
The Collaboration last year helped 210 families and 457 children. The list grew this year to 270 families and 596 kids.
Part of the growth is because the Collaboration has a track record. Also, the county Chamber of Commerce has promoted it, and facebook and word of mouth have spread its successes.
But there's also a greater need, said Jean Mammato-Atkinson, Family and Community Partnership manager at Head Start, where the Collaboration is headquartered.
"There are so many out of work, looking for work or under-employed," Ms. Mammato-Atkinson said. "We're seeing more people unable to make ends meet."
Even with two adults working, some families just can't afford Christmas, said Colleen Mahar, director of Head Start Services.
"It's going to be a rough holiday season for some people," added Lisa Boss, director of Agency Operations.
The Collaboration is seeking the public's help to reverse that.
But even though the agencies started earlier, they've collected only $12,000 of the $27,000 target.
The Collaboration last year could give $25 per person plus toys, so a family of four would get $100 along with gifts.
"This year, it would be $25 to $50 for that family, and toys," Ms. Boss said. "Right now, we're not going to reach what we did last year."
Not having anything under the tree--if a family can even afford a tree--is a hard lesson for children and their parents, Ms. Mahar said.
"They know that good little boys and girls get presents from Santa Claus," she said. "If there's nothing. . ."
The Collaboration isn't just for small children, however. Teens and tweens are part of the mix, as are senior citizens.
"People think about little kids on Santa's lap and tend to forget about teens, but they're important, too," Ms. Mahar said.
There are several ways to help. People can make out a check to "Christmas SCCDC" and send or drop it off to Head Start, 114 Lark Street, Cobleskill.
They could also drop off new toys or gift cards to the same address, the former Aker School.
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Although Head Start is coordinating the Collaboration, other agencies pitch in, too.
Catholic Charities is handling the applications for needy families, SALT is collecting toys and will help with distribution, and others are also lending a hand.
"Without all of us helping, we wouldn't be able to do this," Ms. Mahar said.