It was a gift straight out of a Christmas movie.

A church’s $1,000 donation allowed organizers to buy bicycles for McDowell County youngsters as part of a long-standing holiday toy drive.

And it was unexpected, said West Virginia State Police Sgt. R.A. Daniel.

Daniel, along with others at the Welch detachment, community businesses and local residents help with the time-honored tradition.

“It was pretty good being able to buy bicycles for the big kids as well as plastic ride-on ones for the little youngsters. This is something they will have long after the holiday, and will be able to enjoy when the weather is nice again because a bicycle lasts,” he said.

More than 100 children will be receiving these gifts, thanks to a collaborative effort with employees of the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ Child Protective Services.

Community Services Manager Yvonne Stephens Walker said co-workers had worked to break down the toys – everything from dolls to games – into various categories and by age, including infants because baby toys like rattles had also been donated.

“So many nice toys were donated to us that it was really kind of overwhelming and very touching because we don’t have the resources to buy these things on our own. It is good feeling to have them when you know how many kids we have on our case load. And then to see our workers doing their part shows how much they care too,” she said.

“As a result, we were basically able to touch every child on our case load. And a lot of our kids have a lot of problems, so it is wonderful to impact them and their families in a positive way. It’s a way for them to know others care about them.”

Walker praised supervisors Angela Long and James Long for their support, “so that once the toys come in we can go full force, and get them out to our families.”

The timing is perfect since so many families have suffered financially as area coal mines closed, Daniel said.

“That has hurt a lot of good, decent folks that normally work and pay their bills, so they are really hurt when they can’t afford to give to their kids,” he said.

“We also have a substantial poor population in this county. And we also deal with a lot of drug issues which is unfortunate for those kids because they have no control about what their parents do. But this is a way to make sure they have a happy holiday just like their friends,” he said.

Photo of Welch above by Alan Johnston via Flickr

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