photo submitted

Katherine Beglinger and Vivienne Hess

Christmas, it goes without saying, is a time of giving. We spend time with family, exchange presents, catch up with our friends. At least, that’s how it is for many of us.

Every year, it seems more and more families are struggling just to get by. They mark the time as just another year of working hard to pay the bills and keep their family warm and fed. This is reality for thousands of people in Kentucky, alone. The idea of putting gifts under the tree seems so far out of reach.

It’s fortunate that there are organizations that work to lend a hand to those in financial distress, or straining under the heavy burden of poverty.

One such group which most of us are familiar with is the Toys For Tots Campaign, now in its eighth decade of giving. Founded in 1947 by Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks, Toys For Tots has distributed an estimated 548 million toys to more than 251 million children since its inception.

Among those volunteering time and effort to the cause this year is Katherine Beglinger, a 17-year-old senior at both Scott County High School and Elkhorn Crossing School. Beglinger was required to participate in a community project as part of her dual-credit English course. She immediately took an interest in the Toys For Tots program.

In her research of the Georgetown/Scott County area, she found that more than 1,100 children are currently living in poverty, out of the 3,665 total in Georgetown. According to their contributions website, that translates to 12.17 percent of Georgetown citizens living in poverty. Of course, she felt compelled to help.

“My partner Vivienne Hess and I believed that because of the time of year and the amount of kids in need, we believed we should get involved,” said Beglinger. “When I talked to Scott Markey, the man who runs the Toys For Tots campaign in our area, he said they were able to help 400 children last year.

“We hope to raise their numbers, this year.”

Beglinger and Hess have set a goal of 200 toys, a total they hope to meet or even exceed before the Dec. 16 deadline.

Between volunteering time tutoring elementary school students in the sciences, in addition to serving in her fourth year with ROTC, Beglinger is now doing what she can to get the word out. Both ECS and SCHS will have bins on-site for toy donations, but the drive also accepts financial donations on their website.

“(On the website) you get to pick the toy and purchase it, and it will be sent to the Toys For Tots toy collection. It also provides a receipt for tax deductions,” added Beglinger.

As this is the beginning of Beglinger’s and Hess’s donation drive for the charity, they are simply hoping to spread awareness.

“Right now it’s slow. It’s currently more about contacting our schools and trying to get the word out,” said Beglinger. “But once the word starts to spread, I believe we can really do a lot of good.”

For those who wish to contribute, the website is yougivegoods.com/toys. Supervising the toy drive locally is Scott Markey, whose email is sammas421@yahoo.com. Markey can also be reached at 502-545-2096.

Clinton Riddle is a freelance journalist. Questions  regarding this article can be sent to news@news-graphic.com.

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