Gahanna residents who need help for Thanksgiving or Christmas can register for holiday assistance through Gahanna Residents In Need.

Brenda Johnston, the organization's executive director, said the Holiday Assistance Program is a good way to help Gahanna residents in difficult circumstances make Thanksgiving and Christmas nice for their children.

"You would be surprised how many residents can barely make ends meet, and this is seen in our increased (number of) food pantry recipients each month -- September serving 180 families, or 596 individuals," she said.

Online or paper registration is being accepted through Nov. 10 for the Thanksgiving meal assistance.

To register, go to www.grin4gahanna.org and click on Need Help. GRIN is at 165 Granville St.

The distribution of meals, knitwear and pajamas for children will be noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at New Life Church, 3690 N. Stygler Road.

Photo identification and proof of residency is required, Johnston said.

Online or paper registration for the Christmas toy giveaway will be accepted through Dec. 8.

The toys for infants through high school-aged students will be 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 15 at Gahanna Middle School South, 349 Shady Spring Drive.

Johnston said GRIN also needs volunteers to help with distribution and donations of food, pajamas for children and toys.

Anyone who wants to volunteer should go to GRIN's website and click on the Sign-Up Genius link to check out opportunities.

Beth Bentley, the group's program director, said there are volunteer slots available 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, to prepare for the Thanksgiving distribution and 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at the distribution itself.

"We will be moving food from GRIN to the distribution site, unloading a delivery that will be picked up from Mid-Ohio Foodbank, and preparing the food boxes," she said.

For Christmas, GRIN needs volunteers for two days, Bentley said.

She said the toy program set-up from 4 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 14 is in largest need.

"We have multiple shifts available for unloading, sorting and setting up," Bentley said.

Multiple shifts are also available for the distribution of the toys from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15.

Volunteers helping on a distribution date will need to provide a background check if over 18 years old, Bentley said.

"This can be completed through a link on our website under the 'want to help' tab for the cost of $13.95," she said.

"While older elementary students can help during set-up, these events are not appropriate for young children due to safety, complexity of task, or physical strength necessary."

All elementary children must be supervised by a parent or legal guardian at all times, Bentley said.

She said specific donations needed for Thanksgiving include children's pajamas (infant through high school), canned yams, marshmallows, cranberry sauce, cream soups and canned gravy or gravy packets.

"For Christmas, we will need new toys for children infants through high school, big-ticket items such as bikes, scooters, tricycles, and gift cards," Bentley said.

"The gift cards will be for high school students so fast-food and gas cards are greatly appreciated."

Johnston said GRIN distributed 177 food boxes and provided pajamas, books and knitwear to over 300 children in 2017.

The community-wide, faith-based organization also helped 315 children receive toys for Christmas and assisted with holiday meals through the pantry last year, according to Johnston.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla