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North Hills outreach effort drives to make holidays happy for all

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
The Herald
Members of Boy Scout Troop 344 dropped off 120 sports items and 14 gift cards for the holiday toy shop. The items are valued at about $2,600. From left are Luke Gintner, Brendan Grzyb and Ryan Grzyb. Submitted

More than 75 local volunteers will don Santa hats in coming weeks to ensure there are gifts under every child's tree at Christmas.

The North Hills Community Outreach (NHCO) is running its Holiday Toy Shop, a 25-year-old project that seeks to deliver packages to the Lower Valley needy.

The group is accepting new toys, games, books and sports equipment to be distributed to children, from newborns to age 18.

“The tight economy can cause some difficulty,” said Jen Kissel, director of communications for the agency.

“Some families cut back on spending, but for families that live in poverty all year long, holiday spending is huge for them.

“It's difficult for them to have any extra cash to buy gifts.”

Based in Hampton, North Hills Community Outreach offers some stress relief to those people by hosting a Holiday Toy Shop where shoppers can choose new, unwrapped items for their children.

“They can come in and look around and actually pick things that they know their children will like,” Kissel said.

“It allows them to shop and frees up money for them to buy groceries or pay rent.”

The group provided gifts for 1,220 children in 2011.

Founded in 1978, NHCO strives to help residents in need through utility assistance, job training, back-to-school supplies and community garden crops. It has offices in Millvale and Bellevue, also.

Toy collections run through Dec. 12.

Kissel said gifts for teens are particularly in demand.

“Sometimes, people forget about the teenagers,” she said. “They love to get gifts, too.”

Specifically, the group is looking for popular items such as board games for any age level, puzzles, books, stuffed animals, personal-care kits, bath and body items, craft kits and hooded sweatshirts in all sizes.

“It's fun for us to look through and see what's coming in, but it means so much to the recipients,” she said.

Donations are accepted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at the office, 1975 Ferguson Road.

Volunteers also will be on hand from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 1.

Items can be dropped off in the Millvale office, 416 Lincoln Ave.

For more information, call Vicki at 412-487-6316, option 1.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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