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Marengo DHR hopes for heaps of gifts for needy

MARENGO COUNTY – For some foster children and underprivileged families, Christmas time reminds them of the things they lack. But with help from the Marengo County Department of Human Resources, these families will receive toys and gift to brighten the holiday season.

In 1979, “Project Merry Christmas” began as a way to cater to the needs of foster children, Marengo DHR director Jack Marler said, but now it has evolved to help foster children and low-income families during the holidays.

“Over the years we have provided for thousands of children and families,” Marler said. “We give them Christmas items they may not have received otherwise.”

With the help of community individuals, churches, Sunday School classes, businesses, schools, and social and civic clubs and organizations, project coordinator Mary Sue Henry said DHR raised nearly $25,000 in cash and toy donations last Christmas to help provide a brighter holiday for county residents.

“Last year we served 891 children from the age of 2 to 12,” Marler said.

This year, DHR representatives hope for an even better year.

“We’ve continued to receive donations and we’ve contacted past donors from our database,” Marler said. “Our ability to serve is based on the funding we receive.”

Although Marler said he can’t tell what level of funding the project will receive, he is expecting a larger number of families to provide for this Christmas because of the hurricane season.

“Project Merry Christmas” is run on a need-basis application process.

Families and individuals wishing to participate in the program must complete an application, which will then be screened by agency staff.

Approved applicants will be “adopted” by local organizations and businesses or the families will receive a voucher to a local vendor where they can exchange the vouchers for toys and presents.

The voucher amount is determined based on funds available and the number of children in the family.

“Merchants go to extra efforts to complete paper work necessary for tracking funds,” Henry said, “and we appreciate their participation through the years.”

Applications are available at the DHR office in Linden, the Bargain Box in Demopolis and Agee’s in Dixons Mills.

To donate to “Project Merry Christmas,” contact Mary Sue Henry, or any project staff, at (334) 295-2000.