Hoodie's House of Hope for Youth (HHH) has taken on a new mission for the holiday season, launched at its Wednesday Community Celebration of Hope Thanksgiving feast.

The organization is stepping in to fill a gap that was created in this year's holiday season for children in low income families. In previous years there were programs that served any child who fell in this category in Pulaski County, but this year there wasn't going to be a program that would provide Christmas presents for any child from a low income family.

Toys for Tots does not currently have a distribution organization in Pulaski County. The Marines did Toys for Tots in Pulaski County, but the Daily Guide was told that they would not be doing it again this year. A check of Toys for Tots website confirmed that there currently is not an organization affiliated with Toys for Tots distribution in Pulaski County.

HHH will be checking into Toys for Tots, according to Thomas Hood, local organization representative. In the mean time, HHH is conducting a toy drive and will be providing Christmas presents to children from low income families.

Shop with a Cop and St. Nick's both provide toys at Christmas to children, however both organizations only serve very specific populations of children. In order to be part of Shop With a Cop, a child has to be recommended by social services, a school district, or must have had contact with the police. Kids that participate in Shop With a Cop get to go shopping with a cop and spend $100 at Walmart on whatever they would like. St. Nick's provides gifts to military children, foster children, and children with disabilities.

Both organizations are doing work to serve underserved populations, but children that are from low income families did not have an organization that was working to serve them as a whole. HHH says it wants to fill that gap.

I asked Hood what made the organization want to take on this mission and his answer requires that this editor explain herself first. In the interest of full disclosure, I had a hand in how this came about and I hope Daily Guide's readers can forgive my failure to be impartial during the course of events.

Hood walked into my office a week before HHH's annual Thanksgiving event to discuss that event. I happened to be struggling with trying to figure out a way to write an article to let the community know about what I personally perceived as a problem.

One of the best things about the holiday season, in my humble opinion, is the way that folks come together and think about others. You can look around and see people trying to make a difference in the world and I believe those efforts should be supported and applauded.

Locally, there are many organizations that do this, but this year, I became aware of a gap in our community when it comes to children who come from lower income families. In the past, there were organizations with programs that served any child who fell in this category for Christmas. This year, there wasn't going to be one. For varying reasons.

This became a personal quest for me, readers. I don't really care about whether or not parents should get better jobs or whether they "deserve" help with Christmas for their kids. Christmas is magical, in my opinion, and gifts for Christmas is part of that.

The child from the low income family talking with their friends after Christmas about what they got could care less about whether Christmas has become too commercialized. To me, Christmas is about giving and part of that is making sure that kids have that magic as long as they can. This is a personal opinion, of course, but Mr. Hood walked in while I was pondering the problem.

Hood and I have gotten aquainted through his efforts on Thanksgiving and we discussed the Christmas issue.

He told me that he walked away from our conversation and went to church that night, only to hear a sermon he felt was aimed directly at the issue.

"After we talked and I went to church that night, my pastor started preaching on how God puts opportunities before you that are designed for you," Hood told me.

He said the sermon felt like "God confirmation" and when he had another talk with Danny Graves of Faith Baptist Church about the Christmas issue, he said he felt he had more confirmation that taking on the Christmas project was important and something that HHH should do. Faith Baptist will be donating Christmas boxes to the effort filled with items for kids, according to Hood.

Hood told me at the Thanksgiving event that other churches, organizations, and businesses had stepped up in the span of a week to support the endeavor. The Agape Church was on hand to make a donation during the event.

The Daily Guide will also be supporting the gift drive. Our office located at 108 Holly Drive in St. Robert will be a donation drop-off point, as well as Hood's office located at 21755 Teardrop Rd. in Devils Elbow.

Gifts must be new and unwrapped. Children from birth to teens will be recipients of the gifts so donors may want to consider buying items for an older child. The Daily Guide will be accepting donations Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hood would like to invite other businesses, organizations, churches and individuals to take part in the gift drive as a drop off point, donor, volunteer to help, or any other capacity. To donate or to sign your children up to be a part of the drive, call 573-647-5821 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Low income families can sign their children up to be a part of the program by calling the afore mentioned number.