Two different programs in Wilkes County titled, “Christmas for Kids,” are among efforts making holiday wishes come true for local children.

Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission

The Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission (BROC) “Christmas for Kids” project has served low-income children in Wilkes since 2001. It operates solely on donations and sponsorships and last year helped over 700 children and their families.

BROC collaborates with the Wilkes Salvation Army and Wilkes Ministry of h.o.p.e. to aid families through its application screening process, which prevents duplication of recipients. They feel this process gives its supporters assurance in knowing their donations are being used as intended.

Parents or guardians must complete an application and provide proof that the child or children reside in their home. Applications are filled out at 710 Veterans Drive NW in North Wilkesboro.

The applications are very specific in asking for the child’s age, sex, clothing sizes and explicit wishes and/or needs. BROC staff say that often children ask not for toys, but for practical needs, such as shoes, jackets or blankets.

Gifts or monetary donations for children should be turned into BROC no later than Dec. 13.

BROC has fundraisers year-round to support its toy drive. The next one is the third-annual “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” music show, which is Monday at the Stone Center on Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Refreshments are served at 6 p.m. and the music begins at 7 p.m.

For more information about the BROC project, call 336-667-7174.

Wilkes Road Alerts

The Facebook group “Wilkes Road Alerts,” which has nearly 27,000 members, is organizing its own “Christmas for Kids” program for the third year.

Wilkes Road Alerts accepts donations of toys for kids 10 and under. The group also takes cash donations and will send out “Santa’s helpers” shopping for toys. According to the group’s Facebook page, all money it raises for this effort goes for toys.

Toys may be dropped off at one of Wilkes Road Alerts’ partners, including CrossRoads Harley-Davidson, Express Computer Clinic, Brand Jewelry, Window World, Dodge City Steakhouse, NC Auto Exchange, Big Al’s, Carolina’s Best Automotive, Ball & Ball, IGA Rock Creek Marketplace, Bella’s Floral Design, AeroCare, V’s Type, Call Family Distillery, Tom McNeil Tire Service, Wilkes County Clerk of Court office, Jerry’s Used Cars, Realty One, Copper Barrel Distillery, N.C. Department of Transportation, Harris Motorsports & Graphics, Almost on the Lake, PetSmart, Foothill Spa & Aesthetics, iPhone & iPad Repair of Wilkes, Valle Ink, Holistic Medical Clinic of the Carolinas and N.C. License Plate Agency.

On Dec. 21, Wilkes Road Alerts will pass out the toys at CrossRoads Harley-Davidson on U.S. 421 West in Wilkesboro until they’re gone. There are no signups, screening process or paperwork involved. The toys are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis.

According to its Facebook page, last year the group distributed toys for 606 kids, with each child receiving an average of $50 in toys and gifts.

Christmas assistance

Clara Hickman, executive director of the United Way of Wilkes County, said there are two other agencies in Wilkes besides BROC that serve families with children that need assistance for Christmas.

The Wilkes Salvation Army took applications on Oct. 29-30, with most of their referrals resulting from people dialing 2-1-1. They served 132 children last year, she said.

Wilkes Ministry of h.o.p.e. took applications during the entire month of October. Their referrals come from Wilkes County Schools, Wilkes Department of Social Services, Wilkes Developmental Day School, SAFE Inc. and participating churches.

The ministry provides a “toy store” of donated items and last year served 1,502 children (542 families). This year they have signed up 1,618 children (586 families).

“We refer anyone who comes to our office to one of these three agencies depending on the date they come in our office,” said Hickman. “All three of these agencies work together by comparing their client list to try to prevent any duplications.”

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