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While the heat of summer may still be blazing down on Mountain Home, Christmas is still rapidly approaching, and the crew at CareCenter Ministries are getting a head start on their 33rd annual Christmas Wish with their Christmas in July event.
The ministry is requesting donations for beds, bedding, and bicycles in the lead-up to this year’s Christmas donation drive to children.
“We’re doing a Christmas in July drive, focusing on mattresses, bedding, and bicycles for kids in need,” said Sydney Lind, director for Christmas Wish. “Last year, we had 50 kids ask for any mattress because they either didn’t have one or they’re sharing one with a sibling. So, we’re focused on twin beds. My goal is to have 50 because that’s how many we had last year.”
In addition to the 50 mattresses, which Butler’s Furniture in Mountain Home will supply, CareCenter Ministries is also seeking to obtain 100 full sets of bedding for children and roughly 25-30 bicycles.
An Amazon wish list for Christmas Wish can also be found here.
“We have a section on our application that asks if they need any bedding, and almost every kid that filled out the application last year requested bedding,” Lind said.
Last year’s Christmas Wish raised $13,000 through the generous donations of Mountain Home residents and businesses in town to provide gifts for 150 children in the Baxter and Marion County area while successfully covering all of its presents for children after several businesses and volunteers helped with shopping.
CareCenter’s first year in charge of Christmas Wish, in 2020, saw more donations than sponsors to help with shopping, leaving the teams overstretched in tracking down presents.
In 2020, Christmas Wish raised $19,713 and bought presents for 200 children.
The Baxter Bulletin originally started Christmas Wish before handing it over to CareCenter Ministries in 2020. The charity has become a community staple and a go-to for parents needing help over the holiday season.
To apply, parents must submit an Arkansas-issued driver’s license or identification card to apply. Social Security cards, immunization records, or Department of Health Services letters will not be accepted as proof of identification or custody.
Parents must also provide their most recent pay stub and a lease agreement, electric bill, gas bill, or water bill. If the family lives in a multi-generational home, a handwritten statement from the resident stating the parents and the child live in the house is acceptable.
Birth certificates and court documents showing proof of custody or guardianship must be provided when applying to Christmas Wish.
Applications and all required documents can be turned in outside the Christmas Wish Box at the CareCenter Ministries Office at 734 Thorn Street in Mountain Home.
The deadline for applications is typically Oct. 16. The opening for new applications will be announced in the coming months.
Christmas Wish focuses on providing children with items requested by those who apply and buying presents based on each child’s interest. Gifts include bikes, clothing, CDs, video games, DVDs, books, and other toys. One of last year’s top requests from participating children was to receive a new bike for Christmas, along with requests for books to read at home.