Gifts for Canton, returning for its 22nd year, is among several charitable efforts by local businesses, town workers and others to help the needy during the holiday season.
Organizers of Gifts for Canton are working to make sure children in needy families have Christmas presents, and also to help stock the town food bank and fuel banks. Town hall employees are collecting winter coats for people who cannot afford them.
Gifts for Canton had been around for a while. But this year is the inaugural drive for Canton Shops & Cares.
That group is a collaborative effort of the Canton Chamber of Commerce and Canton Main Street, said Shawn Cole, one of the organizers. It has put together a series of events that started before Thanskgiving in which businesses put on special events to draw in customers and asked them to give money or other donations to the food bank, the fuel bank or Gifts for Canton.
“Both of these organizations have a long history of supporting local charities and we thought it would be a natural fit to work together on this,” Cole said.
The series continues on Nov. 30 when four antiques and home furnishings businesses near the intersection of Dowd Avenue and Route 44 hold a reception to take donations for the food bank. That event will run from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Blue House at 161 Albany Turnpike.
Collinsville businesses are holding their annual Christmas in Collinsville champagne walk on Dec. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. and Cole said people can make donations to the fuel bank, which provides emergency assistance for people who need help paying heating bills during the winter.
Gifts for Canton also is a project of the Chamber of Commerce. Collection boxes are set up around town where people can leave new, unwrapped toys and other gifts through Dec. 11. In addition, the police department and the Community Emergency Response Team will hold collections on Dec. 9. The police plan their annual Stock the Cruiser collection from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Shoppes at Farmington Valley, while CERT will be at the Ocean State Job Lot on River Road from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Distribution of the gifts that are collected will take place Dec. 12 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 55 River Road in Collinsville, according to organizers.
Meanwhile, the workers in town hall are planning their fourth annual Share the Warmth winter coat drive. That started in early November and finishes on Dec. 8, said Claudia Nardi, executive assistant to the chief administrative officer. Donations can be made at town hall.
Nardi said that about 500 coats were donated over the past three years and and that 75 to 80 coats have been brought in this year so far. As in the past, the donated coats will be given to Gifts of Love in Avon, a private social-services agency that provides food, clothing and other emergency services to needy families in the area.