Edwards County Farm Bureau Director Rebecca Perry and Edwards County Toys for Tots Coordinator Sherry Funkhouser help gather toys for the Toys for Tots program in 2020.

For many of those in need of assistance in Edwards County this holiday season, gifts for their children were at least one thing about which they didn’t need to worry.

The Edwards County Toys for Tots program once again distributed toys to families in Edwards County, as well as several outside of the county as well. According to program coordinator Sherry Funkhouser, the local program reached as many as 1,500 children, including many residing well beyond the county’s borders.

“We helped 37 Edwards county families for a total of about 100 children,” said Funkhouser. “We also gave toys to a program that works with children of incarcerated parents, a mission in the St Louis area, a church toy drive and a few other outreaches.

“I know we touched many lives this holiday season. With our outreaches we reached over 1500 kids in 30 counties.”

Beyond those numbers, observing the reactions of some of those receiving toys from the program was an emotionally satisfying experience for Funkhouser.

“The greatest satisfaction I got from doing this, was seeing the appreciation on parents faces when we handed them the bags for each child, and their amazement how much each child received,” she said. “There were several happy tears shed, from both myself, other volunteers and the recipients.”

Funkhouser, in her first year as coordinator of the program, expressed surprise at the ability of Hope Center Director Steve Smith to both obtain and give away toys on behalf of the program.

“I was so happy to help local families in need,” she stated. “I quickly learned how generous Steve Smith is and how many contacts he has, both for giving and for acquiring toys.”

She was also surprised at the amount of items the program gave away per child.

“I am enjoying learning more about the national Toys for Tots program and loved seeing pictures of our first Lady Melania Trump promoting Toys for Tots,” said Funkhouser. “Another aspect that I didn't expect was how much more than toys are given away here. In addition to toys, we gave away hats, gloves and scarves, diapers, coats, books, skating passes and Bibles.

“Anytime we can share the gospel of Jesus, we are honored to do so.”

For the rest of the story, check out this week's Navigator.