When you want to buy a Christmas gift for your child, you likely go to the store.
But for hundreds of Petaluma families, purchasing a holiday gift means putting less food on the table or not paying the utility bill.
Luckily, there’s Christmas Cheer, an all-volunteer effort that has been donating new toys and food boxes to needy Petaluma families since 1957.
On Monday, the group opened its doors at its distribution center at 1372 N. McDowell Blvd, and handed out applications to families who came seeking help. The only requirement is proof of local residency and a document showing children’s birthdates, such as a vaccination record or birth certificate.
Last year, Christmas Cheer gave out more than 700 large boxes of food, which include canned goods, as well as fresh produce and frozen chicken or turkeys. Each child also receives an age-appropriate toy and several lucky winners, a new bicycle.
Many of the volunteers, like Deborah May-Buffum, have been returning for years.
“I got involved 15 years ago because I wanted to show my kids that Christmas wasn’t all take, take, take,” she said.
Despite growing need, donations are down in recent years. The group especially needs new toys for children ages 10, 11 and 12 (both boys and girls) and babies. They are also asking for donations of non-perishable food items as well as cash to purchase what doesn’t get donated.
Donations can be dropped off Monday through Saturday 10am to 6pm at 1372 N. McDowell Blvd. across from the Kohl’s shopping center.
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