AUBURN — Families in need were once again given boxes full of Christmas gifts Monday by volunteers with the Cayuga County Christmas Elf program.
Boxes stuffed with toys, food and gift cards were distributed at Currier Plastic's garage in Auburn. This year's most popular toys included Paw Patrol sets and L.O.L. Surprise! dolls. Supplies for arts and crafts were also given in large numbers.
About 690 boxes were distributed, and an estimated 1,200 children will receive gifts from the program.
In its 31st year, the Christmas Elf program, run by the Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency, relies on volunteers — many of whom are retired teachers. It also accepted donated gifts from community residents, some who buy gifts for children they read about in The Citizen, which runs a daily profile of Elf families from Thanksgiving through distribution day.
Families who apply for the assistance request gifts that their children may be interested in. Based on the provided preferences, volunteers then try their best to accommodate families' wishes.
Volunteer Diane Currier said each child receives a large toy, a smaller toy and a reading book. Each family also receives a $25 gift card to Wegmans.
"This is like the Toys for Tots program for Cayuga County," said Currier, referencing a similar nationwide program. "This is where everyone comes."
A long list of businesses and organizations donated to the Christmas Elf program including Wegmans, BJ's, the Cayuga County Highway Department and Auburn Party rental, who let volunteers borrow tables to sort through gift boxes.
For Monday's distribution day, 25 families stop by the distribution center every half hour. Leftover boxes are stored at Currier Plastic to be used for next year.
Slideshow: Meet some 2018 Cayuga County Christmas Elf families
Each year during the holiday season, The Citizen publishes mini-profiles of local families that have been approved for support through the Christmas Elf program, which supplies children's gifts for families facing financial hardships.
Staff writer Dan Orzechowski can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @OrzechowskiDan.