Southside toy drive serving fewer children could be a good thing

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HENRY COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Volunteers with Grace Network spent much of Tuesday at Martinsville Speedway sorting through all of the toys donated during the speedway's annual toy drive.

The toys will be distributed to about 220 children this year.

"We go through each form that was referred by one of the local churches and we break it down based on age and gender of the child," Jean Garvin, the volunteers' coordinator, explained. "They'll get at least three toys, plus they'll get gloves, socks. We usually put some candy in the bags."

The number of children being served this year is down from last year, but Garvin believes that's a good sign.

"The individual churches have referred less, which means they saw less need in their churches and their communities, which I hope is a good thing," Garvin said.

Volunteer Pam Van Nutt says she sees the need first hand.

On Tuesday, some of the bags she filled up were for children that have been referred by her church.

"I have two grown children and I love shopping for toys for them and I don't get to do that anymore. So, this gives me a little bit of childhood Christmas," Van Nutt said.

She says the children that attend her church and that will be receiving some of the toys are outgoing, which makes her smile when she thinks about how they will react.

"Very outgoing and expressive," Van Nutt said, happily. "Just so much fun."

Garvin said, like Van Nutt, the reactions from children and families are what make the effort worth it.

"We get a lot out of it. It's rewarding," said Garvin.

In total, this year's toy drive raised more than $10,000.

On Thursday, the local churches who referred children will pick up the toys and distribute them to the children's families.

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