CARTERVILLE — A meeting room in the H building at John A. Logan College looked more like an extension of Santa’s workshop on Wednesday.
With tables packed in and loaded with every kind of toy imaginable, representatives from area social agencies descended on room H122 with lists to fill.
A project of the Poshard Foundation for Abused Children, the event is one of the largest Christmas toy giveaways in the region.
Over a thousand new toys and gifts will be distributed to abused, abandoned and neglected children throughout the area who have been identified through social service agencies.
“We’ve always said from the beginning that these children are not on anybody’s list,” said Glenn Poshard, a former statesman and educator.
“Most of us have so much,” said Jo Poshard. “Then we have these children who have next to nothing. Some don’t even have a bed to sleep in.”
Jo said that while many people want to help, they’re not sure how to go about doing so.
That was the case for Harrisburg businessman Richard Clark.
“We’re so lucky to have him,” said Glenn. “He’s one of our biggest supporters in this project.”
Clark owns Tri-State Business Equipment in Harrisburg.
“We have a Christmas party every year,” he said. “I had an idea to ask our guests to bring an unwrapped gift that we could give to a child in need.”
Clark said he thought that people might be “put off” at the idea, but quickly found that was not the case at all.
“We got plenty of toys,” he said, “but getting them out to the right people, we didn’t do so well. We failed miserably.”
That’s when he thought of Glenn.
“Between he and Jo, they had the contacts,” he said.
Clark said his “office party” has become “the most popular party in town,” attracting some 300 guests every year.
“We had to move it to a warehouse I own,” he said. “It just keeps growing.”
Clark’s wife, Tracey, and his sister, Margaret Kukuk, do their part by preparing food for the guests who show up with “some really nice gifts.”
Clark said his guests are friends and business acquaintances, mostly older. “They haven’t lost the Christmas spirit,” he said, grinning.
The Poshards said Clark’s donations are invaluable to the program, which is also supported by Ameren Illinois, a project that will serve from 400 kids from Mt. Vernon to Cairo.
Clark humbly downplayed his role in the project.
“He’s got the lineup,” he said, smiling fondly at Glenn, his friend of more than 30 years. “All I had to do was bring a big truck load of toys. The girls jump in and get everything sorted.”
Two of those “girls” are volunteers Carol Haven and her granddaughter, Jayden, a 17-year-old JALC student who has volunteered since she was six.
The pair are regular volunteers with the Poshard Foundation, according to Jo.
As social workers began arriving with their lists to “shop,” Glenn and Jo stepped back to watch, smiles filling their faces.
“A large part of the year is sad,” said Glenn, noting the regular reports of children abused, neglected, and abandoned. “But today … this is a day of joy for us.”
To learn more about the Poshard Foundation for Abused Children and how you help, visit www.poshardfoundation.org.