Thanks to a surplus of gifts from last year, the program is ahead of schedule

With four wrapping nights down, and a few more to go, Toy and Joy — a program operated by the Newberg Fire Department providing gifts for low-income families — is underway and preparing for deliveries Christmas Eve.

Ben Erb, known as head elf, said this year the group got an early start because of a large surplus from last year.

“We normally do one big shopping trip, but we don’t need to this year because we had such carry over from last year,” Erb said, adding that is a phenomenon which is highly unusual. by: FILE PHOTO - Wheel excitement - Bicycles are a favorite gift for kids served by the Toy and Joy program at the Newberg Fire Department every year.

Erb said the department typically has some extra toys and gifts to store for the next year, but last year there was more than usual.

“But we’ll still do some shopping, you betcha,” Erb said, explaining that some items primarily for teens will still need to be purchased. “People aren’t sure what to buy (for teens).”

So far, the number of families signed up for the program is down from prior years.

“But (the numbers) may not stay there — it might just be right now,” he said. “Last year, we had close to 300 families. We’re just going to have to wait and see.”

Although wrapping is already underway, Erb said donations of any kind are still welcome.

“We’ll take donations the day after Christmas, we aren’t too proud,” he said.

For those interested in receiving gifts from Toy and Joy, former fire chief Al Blodgett said there is still time for applications to be submitted.

“If we had names around (Friday) that would give us some room, but we’re not going to turn anyone away,” Blodgett said.

He said one year, they got a call Christmas morning and were able to get gifts wrapped and delivered that morning. So, while waiting until Dec. 25 isn’t recommended, those in need will be helped even if they miss the deadline. But he said families still must meet the requirements.

“When we get an application, someone from the department goes out and physically makes sure it’s the real thing,” he said. “We’ve tightened it up a little bit over the years because we have had people abuse (the program).”

To submit an application, visit Station 20, Love INC or Newberg F.I.S.H. or call 503-537-1230, option 2.

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