Just past the big, red poinsettia on the front desk at the South Plains College Lubbock Downtown Center, you might notice several big, red and green boxes. They just appeared this week.
Right now, the boxes are mostly empty. But the library staff members at the Lubbock Downtown Center are hoping that’ll change soon.
They are asking for help filling the boxes with gifts to children in a couple of local shelters that serve families with children.
Librarian Tracey Pineda says she and co-workers Juanita Yanez and Adam Ancisco, are collecting toys for children at Family Promise of Lubbock and Restoration Empowerment Center. Both are small shelters within a few blocks of the Downtown Center. Pineda says there are two dozen children listed who will be staying at one of the two shelters over Christmas.
“We’re aiming for at least two gifts per child,” Pineda says, “but we have more, if we can do a little bit more, we’ll try to do whatever we can to do the most we can.”
She says donated toys should not be wrapped. That way, she says, it’s easier to make sure the toys are new and appropriate. No food or candy. Also, no toy guns or knives.
For years, the SPC Reese Library staff spearheaded a Christmas Stocking Drive. For that operation, SPC students volunteered to stuff stockings with donated toys the week before finals. Hundreds of stockings were delivered to shelters and hospitals across Lubbock, Levelland, and Plainview.
Covid, Pineda says, meant fewer people came to the SPC library to donate toys. It changed the ability to deliver presents at hospitals and other large public facilities. Finally, the recent move from the Reese library to the Lubbock Downtown Center, changed the stocking operation.
“We don’t have the space to collect the quantity we used to,” Pineda says. “We don’t have the staff to handle it. It’s a pretty big production gathering that many.”
So, this year’s toy drive is scaled back. “But we wanted to keep things going at least a little bit,” Pineda says. The Reese library, she says, has delivered toys to children at Family Promise of Lubbock and Restoration Empowerment Center for years.
The two dozen children on this year’s toy list from both shelters includes boys and girls of various ages from 11 months up to 11 years. The library has a list of first names and ages.
Pineda says if someone wants to sponsor a specific child on the list by getting gifts, please let the library staff know by phone or e-mail. “We’ve had students come by already and some faculty and staff,” Pineda says, “and put their name by different children.”
Other options include shopping for some fun toys that would be fun for kids of whatever age. Sometimes, Pineda says, larger toys could be used by an entire family. There might also be extra, unexpected children residing at the shelter over Christmas. She recommends spending no more than 20 dollars.
Instead of toys, Pineda says cash donations are also welcome. “What we probably will do,” she says, “is we’ll go to Walmart or some place like that and we’ll see who’s not already been taken care of and we’ll just fill in all the gaps.”
She says they used to do that with the stocking drive too, but at that time, they had more student volunteers who could sort and wrap.
Pineda says this year they hope to start wrapping during finals week. They may need volunteers to help with that. Wrapping paper will be provided.
For now, it’s a matter of waiting to see how quickly the boxes fill up with toys.
“We would love to have a lot more come in next week,” she says, “so that we know what we’re looking at as far as what we need to go and get and supplement. But we’ll take them till the last minute. Even if we have to wrap them in the parking lot and just take them over.”
Both shelters are within a few blocks of the SPC Lubbock Downtown Center. That means delivery is the easy part.
Next week, the red and green boxes will be ready and waiting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.
“If we get more, we’ll give more,” Pineda says.