Late push gets Fresno's Poverello House closer to toys goal; more needed

The Fresno BeeDecember 22, 2013 

Left to right, family members, Jacqueline Lujano, 18, and father Ed, sister Arissa, 16, hand out gifts to kids during the 2010 Poverello House Christmas Day toy distribution.

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The Fresno community answered the call since Friday's update that toy donations to the Poverello House for Christmas were at a critically low level, said spokeswoman Kathryn Weakland.

In the 16 hours after the announcement, $2,000 was donated to the nonprofit specifically to buy toys to be distributed on Christmas morning.

"For the most part, we feel so much more comfortable now than how we felt Friday," Weakland said. "It was a lot of people giving a little. The need is still there, but we all feel much better."

Weakland said Poverello House staff will go shopping Monday and Tuesday for gifts -- from gift cards for older kids to scarves and mittens for young girls. She said cash donations allow the nonprofit to evenly distribute gifts between age groups.

She said this year there is a shortage of gifts for girls ages 7 to 16.

There has been a noticeable increase, Weakland said, in demand from people this year at all of Poverello's events. With good weather expected on Christmas, she expects a long line of people hoping for toys.

"We've never experienced a shortage for any event," Weakland said. "Where we are now compared to Friday has been a blessing. We were pretty dire."

Weakland said the staff wants to finish strong during the last 48-hour shopping window with donations of cash or toys to make sure every child has at least one toy.

For information about how to donate, call (559) 498-6988.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6279 or jrayburn@fresnobee.com.

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