Each and every day of the year, Mahoning County Children Services works to make the lives of kids here in our community better and brighter.
This holiday season, generosity and kind donations from as far a Columbus are helping to make sure that’s possible.
Tucked away inside of Mahoning County Children Services agency is a pop-up toy shop that even Santa would be jealous of.
“It’s for all the children who we did not anticipate would be on our caseload,” said Jennifer Kollar, spokeswoman of MCCS.
So from now until Christmas and beyond, caseworkers will be able to come into the shop and get gifts for the children they serve.
“These are our most vulnerable, at-risk children in Mahoning County — our backyard — and we really just want to make Christmas a little more magical,” Kollar said.
She says this pop-up toy shop is the least that the agency can do to make the holidays special for the over 500 kids they serve.
All are in different situations, but all need the extra love and support this holiday.
“It looks like a lot, and we’re anticipating a lot more because we do have to have a little bit of everything,” she said.
A lot of the gifts were donated from the community, but another big donation came all the way from Columbus help to kick off the agency’s Gifts for Kids campaign.
“We’re one of the few organizations that will receive bikes for the holiday,” Kollar said.
Twenty-seven bikes to be exact.
But it’s the story behind this generous donation and the organization that runs it — simply called the “Bike Lady” — that touched the hearts of everyone at MCCS.
“The bikes were assembled by juvenile offenders who are serving adult sentences,” Kollar said.
Not only do the kids, mostly boys, volunteer to build the bikes, they also match up helmets and a few other safety items in care packages, which include a very heartfelt, handwritten letter.
“In their own words offering encouragement and details on how they ended up incarcerated, and how not to make the same mistakes that they did. So it’s very very touching, and it was hard for me to hold back the tears when I was reading these,” Kollar said.
Although their efforts are a labor of love, Jennifer says during this time of year, “I’m always humbled by the generous spirit our community.”