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Employees at the University of South Alabama Medical Center have been donating thousands of dollars in new, unwrapped toys to the Dumas Wesley Community Center every December for 14 years now. The gifts are used in a toy sale for families in need.
“It’s phenomenal how generous our employees are,” said Anita Shirah, who leads the Human Resources Department and the toy drive at the Medical Center. “Many staff members have families and children of their own, and they still take time to buy things for others.”
On Wednesday morning, Dec. 9, it took two vans and half a dozen people to deliver all of the gifts – everything from colorful blocks and race cars to stuffed animals and baby dolls – donated by Medical Center employees.
“The Medical Center is definitely our largest donor by far,” said Joni Hendee, communications and marketing coordinator for Dumas Wesley Community Center. “We are beyond grateful.”
The toy sale, held each year in mid-December, allows at least 65 families an opportunity to buy new gifts for children at greatly reduced prices. Bicycles that might cost $50 at a local retailer will be priced at $15 or so during the special sale, organizers said.
The Dumas Wesley Community Center staff selects those who are eligible to join the sale, pulling heavily from the surrounding Crichton Community in Mobile. The center is a neighborhood based non-profit organization. The majority of households surrounding Dumas Wesley are headed by single mothers with an average family income of less than $10,000 per year. Nearly 70 percent of the clients served directly by the center are considered low-income.
“The families are able to pick out something they know their child will like,” Hendee said. “We give a hand up instead of a hand out. And the families are so thankful. They always ask who donates the toys. It’s really a happy day.”
See photos from the Toy Drive.
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