Local law enforcement, firefighters, stores and SIEDA are teaming up to give needy children a merry Christmas.
The Oskaloosa Police Association, the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Posse, the Oskaloosa Firefighters Association, Wiggs and Wal-Mart are assisting the Southern Iowa Economic Development Association with buying Christmas presents for needy children.
A Christmas tree is standing at Wal-Mart with Christmas stockings that contain information such as the age and gender of the child and what the child might need. A shopper can stop at the tree, pick up a stocking and buy a present for the child.
Police officers receive the names of needy kids from the Southern Iowa Economic Development Association to put on the tree. Oskaloosa Police Lt. Troy Boston said the program has grown quite a bit since it began in the late 1980s. There were maybe 50 kids on the list in the 1980s, Boston said. Now, there are more than 300 on the list.
“We're expecting more than that this year,” Boston said.
Boston said shoppers can drop off the gift with its stocking at either the Wal-Mart customer service desk or at the Oskaloosa Police Department by Dec. 19.
Boston said that if someone takes a stocking off the tree but decides later against buying a gift, they should take it back so the stocking can go back on the tree.
“We’ve had pretty good support from the community,” Boston said. If people don’t want to buy a present but want to help the effort, they can donate to the Oskaloosa Police Association and to earmark the check for Christmas tree program.