Sharrie Curtis (left) and Bobbi Harris of the Washington Hancock Community Agency stand among hundreds of gift donations in Santa Claus’s satellite workshop at WHCA in Ellsworth. Each year, the organization provides gifts for about 250 kids who may not otherwise have presents to open on Christmas Day. These elves work up until Christmas Eve delivering presents to those in need. PHOTO BY TAYLOR BIGLER

Christmas is for all kids, thanks to WHCA effort

ELLSWORTH — “Every child deserves to wake up Christmas morning with presents under the tree,” said Bobbi Harris, human resources director of the Washington Hancock Community Agency (WHCA).

That is the goal of Christmas Is for Kids, the organization’s toy drive for children in Hancock and Washington counties.

For over a decade, WHCA has collected toys, books, hats and gloves for families who are unable to give their kids the Christmas they hoped for. It provides gifts for about 250 kids from Ellsworth to Calais each year.

“For some of the kids, these are the only gifts they will receive,” said WHCA receptionist and program organizer Sharrie Curtis. “It just really touches you.”

There are no criteria for families who request gifts.

Donors who choose to “adopt” a family are given a list of the number of children, their first names, ages, genders and a few things that they might like to unwrap on Christmas Day.

Others can purchase gifts and take them directly to WHCA, where they will be distributed. Monetary donations are also accepted and WHCA staff will use the funds to buy gifts.

WHCA accepts requests for gifts and donations up until Christmas Eve, when it sends some of Santa’s volunteer elves to deliver presents to families.

“Those parents who wait until the day of are the ones who really thought they would be able to provide for their kids this year,” Harris said. “Those are the ones that really touch you.”

Curtis said WHCA bags up the gifts, but does not wrap them.

“We find that the parents like to screen the gifts and do their own wrapping for the kids,” she said.

All gift bags include a combination of a hat, mittens, coat, stuffed animal, a book, doll, truck and one big gift such as a Lego set or arts and crafts kit.

Employees of the Hancock County Sheriff's Office and the Hancock County Regional Communications Center browse for Christmas gifts for children in need Dec. 4. PHOTO BY JENNIFER OSBORN
Employees of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and the Hancock County Regional Communications Center browse for Christmas gifts for children in need Dec. 4.

Several local businesses are sponsors of Christmas Is for Kids, including the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, which goes shopping for 150 kids each year on Dec. 1.

First-time sponsor Stanley Subaru served as a donation site this year and partnered with WHCA on its float for the Christmas parade.

“We really just want to get the word out and make sure people know what [WHCA] offers to people in need,” said Communications Coordinator Spencer Patterson King.

The Ellsworth Moose Lodge, Ellsworth Fire Department, Machias Savings Bank, Shaw’s, Ellsworth City Hall and the Machias Fire Department are also sponsors.

Since the gift reserve starts to get low in the days leading up to Christmas, WHCA still needs donations and sponsors. “If someone would like to sponsor a family or donate, we would really appreciate it,” Curtis said.

To donate gifts for Hancock County kids, drop them off at 248 Bucksport Road in Ellsworth or 7 VIP Drive in Machias for Washington County. For more information, call Sharrie at 664-2424.

Taylor Bigler Mace

Taylor Bigler Mace

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]
Taylor Bigler Mace

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