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Hudson Valley Press

December 25th, 2013

Student Club at Ulster Organizes Toy Drive

SkillsUSA member Hannah Weiner, Jordon Winters of Kingston Central School District, Supervisor of the Ulster County Family Court Children’s Center, Shirley Whitlock, and SkillsUSA lead advisor Kathy Landers with toys collected for children who attend the family court day care center.
PORT EWEN – Ulster BOCES students belonging to an academic club called SkillsUSA organized a toy drive to help bring some holiday cheer to some underprivileged children. Fifty news toys were being readied on Wednesday for delivery to the YWCA’s Ulster County Family Court Children’s Center (UCFCCC) in Kingston. The daycare center offers a safe haven for children while parents are engaged in family court proceedings.  

Ulster BOCES teacher and SkillsUSA lead advisor Kathy Landers said, “Club members worked really hard to get the word out about the toy drive with the hopes of collecting enough stuffed animals, books, and games to give to our region’s most vulnerable kids.” While packing all the donations SkillsUSA members seemed to be grinning ear to ear at the thought of playing Santa’s helper. Jordon Winters of the Kingston City School District said, “I have great memories of giving and receiving gifts when I was a kid and can only hope we can do the same for someone else.”   

The Center’s Site Supervisor, Shirley Whitlock, explained that the center offers their clients a secure environment away from the courtroom. She said, “Children shouldn’t see or hear what’s being discussed in front of the judge, especially when what is being said is filled with sadness, anger, and trauma.” The cases being fought in family court usually involve divorce, orders of protection, criminal, and/or foster care. Whitlock explains, “Many of our kids live in hotels and in shelters, and toys are often the last thing on the minds of parents who are struggling through a court case.”

Whitlock was thankful for the donations, stating that the Center is a not-for-profit, which must fundraise for these types of luxuries. She says she has witnessed first-hand the healing that a new toy brings to a child involved in these difficult situations.

While the first 50 donations were happily received by the UCFCCC, Landers said that the recent inclement weather has not helped their cause. The club has since decided to continue collecting toys until Wednesday, January 15. The goal is to reach over a 100 new toys.

Donation boxes will be placed in classrooms throughout the school, as well as in the Career & Technical Center’s main office where teachers, administration, and community members can drop off new toys and stuffed animals with the price tags attached. Gifts are being accepted during school hours between 8:35 AM and 2:05 PM.

For more information, contact Landers at 845-331-6680.

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