Toys are still needed for PMN campaign this Christmas
Date: 12/16/2010Dec. 15, 2010
By Lori Szepelak
HOLYOKE -- Thanks to the generosity of family and friends of Kim and Allen Koher of Chicopee, the holidays will be much brighter for children in the city on Christmas morning.
"We are so appreciative of the Kohers as well as the many individuals who give so generously to Providence Ministries for the Needy (PMN) during the holidays," Karen Blanchard, director of PMN, said during an interview with Reminder Publications.
The Granby American Legion was the setting for the Kohers' fourth annual Christmas party and was attended by more than 100 area residents all friends and family of the couple. Everyone attending either had sponsored a family or brought items for the Loreto House men's shelter.
"When I was growing up, my parents had a Christmas party every year to also celebrate my dad's birthday which was Christmas Day," Kim Koher said. "We kept that tradition going but decided it would be better if we gave to families who would appreciate and enjoy the holiday because of our party."
Koher added that she and her husband chose PMN because of her connection to the organization through her work and because of the needs they try to meet yearly.
Kim and Allen Koher of Chicopee hosted a Family and Friends Christmas Party Dec. 3 to benefit Providence Ministries for the Needy of Holyoke. The Kohers are seen with Karen Blanchard, director of Providence Ministries, on right.
"It is a privilege to work with Providence Ministries and we look forward to many years to come," she added.
Blanchard noted that in these tough economic times, she has seen a steady increase in those signing up for PMN's Toys for Kids program.
"Due to limited amounts of gifts, a lottery will be held and families will be notified if they have been selected," Blanchard said.
Blanchard said that families with children up to age 15 may register at Margaret's Pantry until Dec. 17 and must be able to show proof of relationship, ie., a Mass Health card.
At the end of the Kohers festive affair, there were three tall boxes filled with items for the men's shelter, including razors, shaving cream, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, socks, gloves, hats and thermal underwear.
Additionally, a Christmas tree at the entrance to the hall was flanked by holiday bags in all shapes and sizes for the 10 families who were "sponsored," as well as extra games and toys to ensure every child would not go without a gift on the Kohers' list. Wish list items ranged from Harry Potter pajamas, Dora dolls and SpongeBob toys to Barbies and basketballs.
The adopted families also included adults and their wish lists included jeans, sweatshirts, houseware items including a set of dishes and a toaster.
"Everyone who attended our party was very generous," Koher said.
Blanchard added that she has close to 160 families consisting of more than 400 children who have requested toys this holiday season.
"We only have so many gifts donated, so we take everyone who has signed up, pick a name, fulfill their request to the best of our ability, and continue on until we run out," Blanchard said. "Each year we always hope we have enough items to fulfill each request, but we never know until the last minute."
Area residents have until Dec. 21 to donate a new unwrapped toy to PMN. Blanchard added that items that are particularly sought include popular games and toys, including Monopoly, Legos, and footballs.
"More people should get involved," Koher said. "It feels so good to play Santa and help PMN with their mission."
For more information on PMN's Toys for Kids program, call 536-9109.
PMN includes Kate's Kitchen, Broderick House SRO, Loreto House, Margaret's Pantry, and St. Jude's Clothing/Mother Mary's Used Furniture Store.