EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The COVID-19 pandemic has cancelled many events this year, but one group is not letting the virus get in the way of getting gifts to kids for Christmas.
On a cold December night, it’s not hard to find the giving spirit in Evansville. Just ask Kelly Yarde, who we ran into at 911 Gives Hope at the East Side Walmart.
“Our community has stepped up in year’s past year from when I was in the Army, they got donations and sent them to Bosnia, when I was working with orphans down there,” Yarde explained. “So once I got out of the army I came back to Evansville and I wanted to do something for the community so this is my way of giving back to the community through 911 Gives Hope.”
Yarde has been involved in 911 Gives Hope since it was founded 12 years ago – and he says in a year like none other, this year’s toy drive means more than most.
“But we are doing our best at social distance, wearing a face mask, we want it to be a safe event, but we also want it to be a great event, so the community can show these kids that they are not forgotten about,” Yarde said.
Due to COVID-19, Santa isn’t making an appearance this year, but officials say it’s about the work being done to ensure that no child goes without.
“I think our community will come out, I think we will, and what I’m seeing today we have a really good turnout so far,” Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin said. “We have got a lot of cash donations so far and we haven’t even gone in and spent all of that.”
The volunteers will be out through Sunday night, collecting and sorting through toys. The toys will then head to a warehouse for 911 Gives Hope and from there will be sent to local children’s hospitals throughout the Tri-State.
Donations are being accepted around the clock – 24 hours a day – until 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6.
The goal is to fill a 53-foot semi-trailer. For those like Kelly Yarde, it’s a chance to give back to those in need this holiday season.
“We still have a mission we need to accomplish for these kids, and that’s where the community once again, I truly believe are going to step up,” Yarde said.
(This story was originally published on December 4, 2020)