If Cari Williams has her way, every child in Delaware County in need will receive a Christmas gift this year.
Williams, a resident of Monkey Island, is part of the group Monkey Island Fund Raisers who organize the Delaware County Children's Clothes and Toy Fund each year.
This year, as she sent a letter out to supporters far and wide, Williams shared her deepest desire - finding a way
for all children in need to receive something for Christmas, even if its simply a pair of socks, a warm coat or shoes that don't pinch their feet.
"This year, in this special season of gratitude, won’t you please join me in bringing joy and laughter to some very precious and deserving Oklahoma children who, without your kind generosity, won’t have a happy Christmas," Williams wrote in her plea. "I promise, you will be greatly rewarded from the knowledge that you blessed their precious lives."
About the drive
The drive, organized by Williams, along with Joyce and Larry Duke, and others, started as a way to bring a bit of Christmas spirit to children not only on Monkey Island but throughout Delaware County.
Each year the group spends at least $50 (sometimes more) per child. The children are identified through Department of Human Services caseworkers, and are often residing in temporary foster homes.
Williams said most need clothing and shoes, but also express interest in toys, books, games and other items.
Last year, the Monkey Island crew helped at least 160 students. At their peak year of fundraising, they raised $20,000 and were able to help 400 children.
"We want every deserving child in Delaware County to receive a gift," Williams said, adding the group hopes to raise enough to fund gifts for 200 children this year.
Gifts purchased by the crew include at least one outfit per child, along with socks and underwear. Other items often requested include books, small toys or even earphones.
"I have an empathy for parents who are trying and want so much to give their children a magical Christmas," Williams said. "Children want to be able to go back to school after Christmas and not be ashamed, or feel different, because they didn't get something."
Williams recounted a Christmas when one of her children came home and told about a girl in her class, who did not receive anything for Christmas.
"She said 'oh momma, she must have been really bad,'" Williams said. "That was the year we 'undid' Santa. It was a sad, hard day, explaining to my children about children in need."
Williams estimates the group has raised approximately half of its $10,000 goal through direct donations and through a Go Fund Me crowd source website.
She knows the group needs to complete its fundraising by Sunday, Dec. 10, as the purchased gifts must be returned to the Delaware County DHS office by Dec. 15.
Williams said purchasing the gifts has taught her many lessons.
"I have been so blessed and I have the ability and the honor to have the chance to help others," Williams said. "God has been very good to me.
"You get happiness from it. I just love it. I absolutely love it.
"The only negative emotion comes when you realize there's not enough money, and there's a child left without a gift. So you say, ok, and you find some more money to share the blessings."
Want to help?
Donations for the Delaware County Children's Clothes and Toy Fund may be made by mail: Cari Williams, 29980 South 566 Road, Monkey Island, OK, 74331, in person at the Grove Sun office, 16 West Third, Grove; or online at www.gofundme.com/the-christmas-socks.