It’s the day before Thanksgiving, so we’re going to put the politics aside this morning, and offer a little hope for the holiday season.
Earlier this week, officials from the state Departments of Human Services and Labor & Industry got the holiday season started with the donation of hundreds of stuffed toys for deserving kids across the commonwealth.
The toys are collected during routine toy inspections by Labor & Industry workers, and are later distributed through DHS’ Holiday Wish program, the two agencies said in a joint statement.
Under state law, L&I’s Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety must inspect all new stuffed toy samples for contents, choking hazards, and general safety. The toys that pass inspection get a registration number, which is on every stuffed toy sold in the state. As a result, L&I ends up with hundreds of toy samples each year, the agency said.
Donating the stockpile of stuffies is a “special opportunity to spark a little joy for a few of those children each holiday season,” L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said.
“I encourage all Pennsylvanians to consider their neighbors, co-workers, friends and family members who might be struggling this holiday season,” she continued. “If you have a little extra to give this year, get in touch with an organization that collects holiday donations. You won’t regret it.”
Over the last six years, L&I workers have donated 3,800 toys that passed inspection to holiday gift drives.
On Monday, the labor oversight agency delivered nearly 600 toys to DHS’ Holiday Wish program, which was founded in 1989 by a handful of DHS employees, but has since grown to include hundreds of employees stretched across state government, the agencies said in their joint statement.
Families participating in DHS’ Holiday Wish program are identified when they apply for benefits at county assistance offices for such services as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or medical assistance.
Holiday Wish recipients select the gifts they’d like to receive, and they’re distributed in December by state employees and Pennsylvania National Guard personnel, the agencies said in their statement.
“We want to do our part during this season of giving to help make the holidays better and brighter for the families we serve. Holiday Wish allows us to give a little extra help to our neighbors who may be struggling or having a hard time,” acting Human Services Secretary Meg Snead said.
If you need help, or know someone who does, applications for public assistance programs can be submitted online at www.dhs.pa.gov/compass. You can also seek in-person assistance, or call the state’s Customer Service Centers at 215-560-7226 in Philadelphia, or 1-877-395-8930 for the rest of the state.
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