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Editors Note: The owners of the Mountain Home Observer donated to CareCenter Ministries this Christmas season to help with the purchase of bicycles and books for children. Artwork provided by CareCenter Ministries.
CareCenter Ministries 32nd Annual Christmas Wish has 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.
Gifts will be available for pickup by families Dec. 17-18 at the Unit from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. The Unit is located at 151 Highway 201 North in Mountain Home, Arkansas.
“I would say that it was blessed,” said Ciera Paulsen, woman’s home director for CareCenter Ministries in Mountain Home. “The community came together and we’re grateful for that. I feel like things are a lot tighter this year and pricing is a lot higher on toys and clothes. It’s been a rough year.”
Paulsen said Christmas Wish has successfully covered all of its presents for children this year after several businesses and volunteers helped with shopping.
CareCenter’s first year in charge of Christmas Wish saw more donations than sponsors to help with shopping, leaving the teams overstretched in tracking down presents.
Last year, Christmas Wish raised $19,713 and bought presents for 200 children.
“Some of our biggest partners are Butler Furniture,” said Brandi Burroughs of CareCenter Ministries. “Hope Center really stepped up. ABATE does their Toy Run, where they start at its location and go through town and up the bypass before ending at the VFW. The Moose Riders from the Moose Lodge and the Jewel Chest.”
Burroughs said they also received donations from several other businesses in town. Cash donations for Christmas Wish are open year-round. The cutoff for toy donations was Dec. 14.
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, immunizations 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 multigenerational 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 this year’s application was Oct. 16. No new applicants are being taken at this time.
Christmas Wish focuses on providing children with items requested by those who apply and buying presents based on each child’s interest. Gifts can include bikes, clothing, CDs, video games, DVDs, books and other toys.
One of this year’s top requests from participating children was to receive a new bike for Christmas, along with requests for books to read at home.
“We’ve been extremely blessed,” Paulsen said. “My whole storage for Christmas wish is full with toys.”