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Local group in need of donations to provide Christmas for needy children

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Some of the toys that were bought for Christmas for local kids. | Courtesy Shawnee Whitehead

IDAHO FALLS — A local group that finds ways to give back to the community is asking for help to provide Christmas for local children.

Shawnee Whitehead is the Christmas and toy administrator for a popular Facebook page called Idaho Falls Blessings. The Facebook page is a Christian-based community page for locals to join and find ways to serve others.

“If there’s somebody out there that’s in need, then we let the community step in and (we) help out where we can,” Whitehead explained about the page. “Those of us that are admins, we’re like the go-betweens. Any circumstance you can think of that (a person) doesn’t have the ability to get access to the things that they need, then that’s when we step in.”

There are a handful of administrators assigned to oversee different categories such as household items, clothing, homelessness and seasonal. With the holidays quickly approaching, Whitehead is getting everything ready to provide items for Christmas to children ages 0 to 18.

She originally thought gathering donations wouldn’t be an issue as she’s been collecting them throughout the year. But given the current circumstances with COVID-19 and knowing how the virus has affected countless people in the area, she believes they will see a greater need than before, which makes donations crucial.

Last year, she said they had about 1,500 families that needed help providing Christmas for their children, and this year, she’s expecting that number will be doubled.

“I want to be able to bless as many kids as we possibly can this year,” Whitehead expressed. “I don’t think that people realize how much need there really is in our little community. And I mean, community — stretching from Pocatello to St. Anthony.”

Courtesy Shawnee Whitehead

Whitehead is grateful for the donations the community has already made but is asking for anyone else willing to donate, to please do so.

She said the group could use new or like-new toys, clothing, electronics, sports equipment, books, makeup, coloring books, crayons and games.

“It’s pretty much anything and everything,” she said. “No matter what it is, it’s going to be a huge blessing, and there’s going to be a kid out there somewhere that’s going to want anything.”

The group is also asking for donations for Christmas trees and decorations as part of their Christmas lending closet where they loan trees and decorations to families that can’t afford them.

To donate items, visit the Facebook page’s announcements section and message one of the administrators or make a post directly on the page that you have items for Christmas. You can also email blessingsanddonations@gmail.com.

“We know that there is a higher being out there that is filling our hearts and helping us, and we claim God is our guiding hand,” according to Whitehead. “We’re just the helpers.”

The Idaho Falls Blessings group has an event running Oct. 2 through Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, where there will be coats, hoodies, sweaters, scarfs, gloves, hats and snowsuits available for community members in need to pick up. They’ll be accepting winter item donations too. The event takes place at 1266 1st Street.

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