More Delaware County families than ever before need a boost this holiday season.
Organizers with People in Need of Delaware County said donations to the annual Holiday Clearing House charity drive will benefit more than 1,000 children and about 740 adults throughout the county -- a new record.
"It's huge," said People in Need Executive Director Kevin Crowley. "The need is just greater than in a typical year, but we're going to do the best we can to take care of as many families as possible."
Donations of canned and nonperishable food, toys and new winter clothes can be dropped off at fire stations, schools, churches and businesses across the county through Dec. 7.
Residents also can drop off donations at the Delaware County Fairgrounds Saturday, Dec. 1.
Roop Brothers Bar, 17 N. Union St. in Delaware, also will hold a toy drive for the Holiday Clearing House from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 1.
Residents can drive by the bar and drop off toys for children of all ages without leaving their cars.
The Delaware Fire Department will be on hand to assist the effort, alongside a fire truck and Santa Claus himself, who will pass out candy canes.
Anyone who drops off a toy also will receive a raffle ticket to be entered in a drawing for a TV.
Last year, the bar collected enough toys to fill nearly five pickup-truck beds -- about 90 percent of the total toy donations for the drive.
"Any donations of any toys are all equally welcomed, and it's guaranteed that everything goes 100 percent to kids and families," bar owner Al Roop said.
Organizers suggested residents consider donating toys for older children. Toys for younger children usually make up the bulk of the donations.
On the final day of the drive, volunteers will gather in the coliseum building at the fairgrounds to unload and sort the donations.
Distribution day will be Dec. 9, when families will pick up a four-day supply of food and have the chance to select toys for their children.
Volunteers also will deliver items to more than 200 senior citizens and disabled residents.
Participating families have already registered. Anyone interested in volunteering should email People in Need at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers donated at least two hours of their time. "We're counting on the community to come together again to make this happen," Crowley said. "They always do."
Residents looking for a donation drop-off site prior to Dec. 1 should check with their local fire station, school, church or local businesses, Crowley said.