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Christmas gift giveaway helps families in need

Throughout Wednesday, 750 families lined up outside the LCBC Church in Dickson City to shop through an auditorium full of Christmas presents.

The art kits, dolls, Hot Wheels, books, stuffed animals and more were free of charge to the families. The gifts for more than 1,000 children were all donated or purchased with donations to one of three local faith-based organizations, who all work to serve those in need in different capacities.

“Most of what we do is centered around emergency services and ... things that people need to survive like food and clothing and shelter," said Meghan Loftus, president and CEO of Friends of the Poor. "But that doesn't mean that people don't need more for a dignified life. And you hate to think about a child going back to school after Christmas break and not understanding why Santa didn't come for him and came for the other children. So that's kind of why we want to make sure that we're here and we're able to provide this as long as we're the community continues to support it."

Friends of the Poor partnered with Catholic Social Services and the Catherine McAuley Center to host the Christmas Gifts for Kids Distribution at the church. It was the first year the three organizations came together for the gift giveaway.

“This year we decided to collaborate and partner together to serve the highest number of people in the community because we've seen such an increase in need," said Krista Somers Murray, executive director of the Catherine McAuley Center.

The families picked up stocking stuffers and holiday decorations before heading into the church’s auditorium.

Wednesday’s event required a pre-registration but Friends of the Poor and the McCauley Center are partnering again to host another gift giveaway on Dec. 21. The first come, first serve event will be held in the gym in the University of Scranton's Byron Recreation Complex. A photo I.D. and child identification like a birth certificate, social security card or report card, is required.

The giveaway does have an income requirement.

“Anybody who is 150% of the federal poverty level or below will be eligible to attend," said Murray.

The McAuley Center is accepting donations of new and unwrapped toys until Dec. 17. They can be dropped off to the center’s administrative offices at 430 Pittston Avenue in Scranton Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monetary donations can also be dropped off to the office or made online at catherinemcauleycenter.org.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.