With the holiday season in full swing, a local nonprofit that purchases Christmas gifts for children says the need this year is greater than ever but it seems fewer people have the means to help out.

The nonprofit, Christmas for Kids, has been operating in the Moscow area since the early 1980s and has become a charitable staple in the region, said Staci Gibler Sproull, who sits on the group’s board of directors. She said there is some vetting of applicants by the three-person board, but any family with children 18 or younger that have a need is welcome to apply.

While it is too late to apply this year — gifts will go out to families starting Tuesday — Gibler Sproull said applications are available every holiday season on the group’s Facebook page and website and at numerous locations around town, including Gritman Medical Center, Book People of Moscow and Walmart.

“The application asks everything about the child — the age, the size of clothes, what they like, what they’re into, what their needs are in terms of clothes, as well as toys,” she said. “For every child, we give three clothing items and three toy items.”

She said last year alone, the group helped more than 500 children from more than 175 families — and they’re on track to exceed that this year..

Gibler Sproull said the group connects families with donors in one of two ways. Some families will be sponsored by businesses like Avista Utilities and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, she said, while others will have their names and needs placed on tags hung on trees in strategic locations around town. Shoppers who want to help can pull a tag from a tree and include the items for the family in their shopping.

Invariably, she said, there are families at the end of the season whose requests go unfilled, at which point Christmas for Kids dips into its savings, which is fueled by donations, and taps volunteers to go out and do the last of the shopping.

She said because of the pandemic, the need this year is greater than usual but with so many struggling and out of work, there are fewer people with cash to spare for charitable efforts.

“There’s also fewer people shopping,” Gibler Sproull said. “We know that there’s probably half the people going into Walmart that would be going in last year or next year and probably half of them are able to take a tree tag to buy something extra — we totally understand that.”

Gibler Sproull said Christmas for Kids volunteers have spent the last few days wrapping gifts in donated space on the 1912 Center’s newly refurbished second floor, and will likely be wrapping for much of the coming week as well. She said even in times of shared hardship the local community has shown extreme generosity.

“Some of the gifts that we get in, they just bring tears to our eyes. I joke that I do this every year because it brings back my faith in humanity — I see that people are super, super generous,” she said. “I think people realize that this is the time of year that should be magical for kids … and that they shouldn’t be left out.”

Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to sjackson@dnews.com.

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