WILKES-BARRE – By 9 a.m. Tuesday a line had formed outside Our Lady of Hope Church on Park Avenue for the Catholic Social Services' annual toy distribution.
An hour later, the families of about 70 of a total of 1,500 children had received toys and other items to put under the tree for Christmas morning – only a week away.
It's a blessing for all of us for (Catholic Social Services) to be here, said Judy Bowick, of Wilkes-Barre. She registered weeks ago to participate in the program to give her 8-year-old grandson whom she cares for a proper Christmas.
It's the only way for some people to have Christmas presents, she said.
Bertha Roberts, of Warrior Run, also was at the toy donation to select items for her three grandchildren, ranging in age from 2 to 9. It's really nice that they do this, Roberts said. I heard about it from a friend a few years ago, and I'm glad it's here.
Last week the toy drive was in need of gifts for older children, from 6 to 11.
Catholic Social Services' prayers were answered, said Monsignor Joseph Kelly, when more toys – as well as jackets and other items – arrived within the last week.
Kelly, the group's executive director, thanked area churches, the community and the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program for being so generous.
We've got a lot to offer; we're busy and it's wonderful, Kelly said.
About 40 volunteers will work through this afternoon to distribute the toys, he said. Participants had to register around Thanksgiving to be able to receive gifts for children, and identification and registration sheets were checked when participants arrived.
Alison Zurawski, a First Liberty Bank employee who volunteered to help distribute toys, said although it's sad to see anyone in need, especially children, she was glad she could help.
You do what you can, Zurawski said, adding she and other co-workers also had recently volunteered at the St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre.