Volunteers, donors sought for ECHO holiday programs
ECHO, a local faith-sponsored charity, is in need of cash and toy donations through Tuesday, Dec. 18. The organization also needs volunteers to help serve low-income families in Janesville.
Donations can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to noon Fridays at ECHO, 65 S. High St., Janesville, or by calling 608-754-5333 to schedule an appointment.
Donations also can be made on ECHO's website at echojanesville.org or on Wednesday, Dec. 19, at St. John Lutheran Church, 302 N. Parker Drive, Janesville. The church will serve as a toy distribution site.
Volunteers who can help with toy distribution starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19, or with serving a Christmas Day dinner, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 25, also should call ECHO at 608-754-5333.
JANESVILLE Attention potential donors: ECHO could use more toy donations for one of its Christmas assistance programs.
"We have lots of stocking-stuffer types of toys, but we don't have bigger toys like we normally do," said Jessica Schafer-Locher, ECHO's client advocate and officer manager. "They're coming in slowly."
As of Wednesday, 323 families with 771 children already had signed up to receive toys at the local faith-sponsored charity. Two more days remain for income-eligible families to register to receive toys, she said.
"We already surpassed last year when we actually handed out (toys) to 632 kids for 264 families," she said.
ECHO can't spend money from its general budget, so donations are critical, Schafer-Locher said. If more toys and money to buy them don't come in, the charity won't be able to give as much to each child as it has in the past.
"In previous years, each family gets a board game, some books, and each child gets around two toys and stocking stuffers," she said. "It'll just be a little less if donation's don't come through."
That would be a shame, Schafer-Locher said.
"We want to make sure the children have a good Christmas experience so they're not made to feel different from everybody else," she said.
The toy distribution effort set for Wednesday, Dec. 19, (snow day is Thursday, Dec. 20) is the most important of ECHO's Christmas programs because it affects kids, she said.
"Being able to know somebody cared about them to purchase items affects the kids, who are our future," Schafer-Locher said. "Hopefully they'll give back, too, when they're older."
Cash and toy donations can be made at ECHO through the end of the day Tuesday, Dec. 18, and Wednesday, Dec. 19, at St. John Lutheran Church, which is the toy distribution site.
ECHO also is distributing both real and artificial Christmas trees and decorations so families that cannot afford these holiday extras will have them.
Schafer-Locher estimates ECHO will help at least 95 families through this program, which is the number of families served last year.
"If people are done decorating and have extra (Christmas tree) donations, they should bring them down," she said.
ECHO also will continue its tradition of hosting a Christmas Day dinner that is open to the entire community.
"We're expecting around the same or more as last year, when we served 650 people," Schafer-Locher said.
Between 100 and 150 volunteers are needed to help with the dinner.
"Volunteers socializing with people alone makes sure everyone has a great Christmas experience and feels welcome at the event," Schafer-Locher said.