Giving to those in need

Giving to those in need
By: Tiffany Sisson
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - As a teacher, a wife, and a mother, Jennifer Icaza-Gast has been blessed. She's never really wanted for much. "On Christmas morning, I watch my kids open their toys," said Icaza-Gast.
But, there was always something missing. "For many Christmases, I was just overwhelmingly sad because some kids weren't able to open some toys. I thought, what can I do," asked Icaza-Gast.
Jennifer started a toy drive with her students, but ran into some roadblocks. "It is frustrating. I know there are so many kids who need toys that aren't gonna be getting much for Christmas or anything at all. I do have all these toys, and I want those kids to get these toys," said Icaza-Gast.
The problem is that she had trouble connecting with those who needed them most. Ironically at the Salvation Army, Major Ben Stillwell has a tough time finding generous donors. Right now, more than 25-hundred people and nearly 900 families are asking for help at Christmas, some of whom get special attention through adoption. "Those are the ones that are kind of special. Somebody who hopes for a first bicycle, that'll bring tears to your eyes, and a great big smile, and joy to you. It makes it really special," said Stillwell.
The Salvation Army helps children under the age of 12. First Call for Help picks up where they leave off. "for those children, it's sometimes harder to get presents for a 13, 14, 15 year old. So, we try to encourage people in the community to get gifts for older children," said Denise Wimp, Director.
If you'd like to adopt a family this Christmas, a good place to start is your local United Way. They can connect you with an organization to help you start your holiday shopping list for those in need.