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Toys, food, clothes all on list

It's that time of year once again, and just like many out there, Dixie Carter, Roxanne Plummer and Aimee Andrews have been counting down the days - along with the heads - to see who needs what.

Carter is looking to do something for about 40 kids; Andrews about 130 kids. Roughly 50 families are on Plummer's list.

The three, all guidance counselors in Pasco schools, head up Assist Believe and Care programs that tend to the basic everyday and holiday needs of students and their families.

No doubt ABC coordinators throughout Pasco will have a lot of help from faculty this season, as they have in the decade-plus that the program has been around. Often school staff members are the primary givers. The community also steps in to help, and more are welcome - and needed - to do so this year.

The wish lists of these children and their families are a mix between needful and wishful things, from clothes to school-appropriate shoes or sneakers to school supplies, toys or turkeys.

Many schools also collect nonperishable food items to help families during the winter break, as many children get two of their primary meals at school through the free and reduced lunch program.

Gift certificates and monetary donations are also welcome.

"Any kind of donations help," said Andrews, who heads up the ABC program at Sunray Elementary in Holiday. This year that school suffered the loss of community donors who helped out in the past, she said.

"We're not giving turkeys this year because we don't have them," she said.

Sunray has a Giving Tree in the school office covered with paper ornaments containing the wish list for each kid. Donors can shop for an anonymous student. Or they can just write a check to be added to the ABC fund. "Whatever's not taken off the tree, we will purchase with the funds," said Andrews.

Over at Pasco Elementary School, Plummer is hoping she'll have enough. And as usual, Plummer said, as the holiday nears, more names are added to the list.

"We still have families that have not been serviced yet," she said, adding that the school has benefited from some help from those living in Lake Jovita and the Zephyrhills YMCA. Calvary Assembly of God is donating 18 holiday meals and many families will get help from Toys for Tots, she said.

While Dixie Carter's list of those in need at Pine View Middle has gone down some from last year, she said there is still a need. She's not all that worried, though.

"Everybody's real good about taking care of our kids here," she said. "When a need goes out, I put out the word and people respond."

FAST FACTS

To help

Those who want to help should contact the ABC program coordinator at the school of their choice. A list of schools and their addresses can be found in the blue pages of your phone book or online at www.pasco.k12.fl.us.

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