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Barry County children will get Christmas gifts thanks to community's giving spirit

The goal of the United Way’s partnership with WBCH for Stuff Our Station eight years ago was to insure that each child in Barry County, who might otherwise not get anything under the Christmas tree, would find gifts there with their names on them.



Other organizations stopped taking names at Thanksgiving from those who needed help with gifts, Executive Director of the Barry County United Way Lani Forbes said.

But, some families have significant changes in their circumstances and there was no way to respond to those children, so the Barry County United Way teamed up with WBCH and extended the signups until mid-December.


The community’s response to the appeal to donate Christmas toys was, and is, incredible, with individuals, families, businesses, civic clubs, schools, many other sponsors, all donating new, unwrapped gifts as well as money that is used to shop for more, Forbes said. 


This year, there are 360 children already signed up, with 400 names expected before the distribution begins, Forbes said. The toys were collected Friday, Dec. 14 and on Sunday, volunteers from the Youth Action Council will sort the gifts according to age and either a boy or girl.


Parents sign up by calling BCUW at 269-945-4010, and if they qualify, get an appointment, when they are welcome to shop for 15 minutes to select three toys and stocking stuffers for each of their children. They can wrap the toys there, or take the paper and wrap them at home.

“It’s doesn’t  matter when they celebrate the holiday, on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, or a week later; it’s whatever suits the family,” she said.


The system for giving gifts to 350 to 400 kids takes a full week, and works very well.

“We are blessed that we can serve, and it’s only because of our incredible community,” Forbes said. “It’s one thing we can do to take the load off their shoulders in a stressful time.”


One example of the giving: The Michigan State Police Wayland Post/Hastings Detachment was at Wal-Mart last week accepting toys for the program.  “They filled three Tahoe’s and two cruisers; we had to open a side window to start taking the toys out,” Forbes said. 


The following is a list of places in the community where toys were dropped off during the collection.


-Courtside Screenprinting

-Carl’s Supermarket




-Walker Fluke and Sheldon

-Thornapple Valley Credit Union

-Andrew Cove Edward Jones Investments

-Kevin Beck Edward Jones Investments

-Barry County Chamber of Commerce

-Seasonal Grill

-Preferred Credit Union

-Barry County Mental Health

-Woodlawn Meadows (two locations)

-Courtside Screenprinting



-Bradford White

-Snack Shack

-Community West Credit Union


-Village Hall

-Township Hall

-Thornapple Valley Credit Union



-Thornapple Valley Credit Union

-Gilmore’s Car Museum




-Portland Federal Credit Union


Lake Odessa

-Portland Federal Credit Union




-Southside Pediatrics


(top) Volunteers from WBCH and Barry County United Way display a few toys for Barry County kids at Christmas. (From left) are Sue Radant, WBCH; Lani Forbes, BCUW; Steve Radant, WBCH; Devin Hamlin, BCUW; Emily Blocher, BCUW; Pattrick Jansens, BCUW; and Morgan Johnson, BCUW.

(top left) Stuff Our Station they said, and that’s what the community did.

(middle right) WBCH’s Steve Radant and BCUW’s Morgan Johnson move boxes of toys from the radio station.

(lower left) Pattrick Jansens, BCUW, finds a place for a large toy dog to ride to the distribution center.

(lower right) Lani Forbes and Devin Hamlin (BCUW) have a handful of toys that are going to kids at Christmas.

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