With the holidays around the corner, Bexley residents can get into the giving spirit by participating in Franklin County Children Services' Holiday Wish program.
Through the program, which was founded in 1963, the agency asks children who it has had contact with due to parental neglect or abuse to make holiday 'wish lists' for gifts of $50 or less. Donors can sponsor individual children, make monetary donations toward filling the lists or donate new toys. The agency's caseworkers deliver the gifts on their daily rounds in December.
Last year, the community provided gifts to more than 6,100 children, according to FCCS.
"We ask the community for donations. Caseworkers have gone out to homes and assessed needs," said Elizabeth Crabtree, director of the Holiday Wish program. "We don't do it for every home; we do it only for homes where there are needs."
For the first time, the Holiday Wish program has partnered with Gramercy Books, 2424 E. Main St. in Bexley. Through the store's Be a Book Angel program, which began Nov. 1 and runs through Christmas Eve, patrons can choose a star from the store's holiday tree. Each star bears the name of a book that is on the list of a child who is participating in the Holiday Wish effort. Patrons can purchase the book at 25 percent discount, write their name on an angel and place the angel on the tree.
Debbie Boggs, manager of the store, said she previously ran the Be a Book Angel program at the now-defunct Little Professor Bookstore in Upper Arlington. She said she got the idea to revive the program at Gramercy earlier this year when she ran into an FCCS administrator who used to coordinate the program.
Gramercy already has collected more than 60 books for the Holiday Wish program, Boggs said.
"What's really fun is when parents bring their kids in and have them buy a book for another kid and write their name on the angel and place it on the tree," Boggs said.
The Holiday Wish program's partnership with Gramercy is rare in that there is only one other bookstore in central Ohio that collects books for children's wish lists, Crabtree said.
"We love books," she said. "We know that kids who are read to do better in school. They do better neurologically, as well. It's a great way for caregivers to bond with their kids. It's a great way to open doors in the minds of children to all the possibilities."
For more information about the Holiday Wish program, call FCCS at 614-275-2525 or send an email to email@example.com.