Spread holiday cheer to struggling families through United Way’s White Doves Holiday Project

The holidays are quickly approaching and for many children, food and presents are not guaranteed.
With 41 percent of households living in or on the brink of poverty, it won’t be a happy holiday for an alarming number of Martin County families.
One local program aims to be a beacon of light. Celebrating its 30th year helping local families, United Way’s White Doves Holiday Project is a community-effort that brings holiday cheer to Martin County’s less fortunate residents. As the local Toys for Tots coordinating organization, United Way collects toys for children with the help of hundreds of volunteers, donors and 120 businesses and communities serving as official Toys For Tots drop-off locations.
“We’re honored to conduct this toy drive for the children. It brings us tremendous joy to spread holiday cheer to those who are less fortunate,” said Carol Hodnett, Vice President of Community Impact and Volunteering, United Way of Martin County. 
To commemorate the 30th year coordinating this important project, United Way is also raising funds to bring back the tradition of providing a healthy meal to families during the holidays. A $25 donation to the United Way Holiday Meal Drive will provide a nutritious holiday meal to a family who may not be able to afford it on their own. 
More than 1,000 families have applied for assistance through United Way’s White Doves Holiday Project.  
“We live in a very giving community,” said Hodnett. “Now is the time for people to pitch in and help. Our greatest fear is that we won’t have enough toys and meals for all of the families we’ll serve this year.  We are encouraging  people to shop early so that every toy can be counted and sorted in time for distribution.” Toys for Tots will be accepting new, unwrapped toys until December 15. 
Monetary donations are welcomed, too.  “Monetary donations allow us the opportunity to purchase toys where we have the largest shortages,” Hodnett said. “Our shortfalls are typically for children 13-15 years of age.”
To find a nearby collection site or to make a donation, visit www.UnitedWayMartin.org/WhiteDoves.
Photo Caption: Volunteer elves Suzanne Horstman (left) and Mary Sawyer (right) assist United Way Director of Community Engagement Lucy Corley (center) with toy distribution during the White Doves Holiday Project last year.