Donations save Christmas gift giveaway in Kzoo

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A nonprofit in Kalamazoo had considered canceling its annual Christmas gift giveaway after a major toy donation fell through.

When the regular supplier for the Kalamazoo Deacons Conference was not able to help this year, the group was not sure where to turn.

Longtime giveaway organizer Lee Scheffers says he was heartbroken when he heard the news.

“I couldn’t sleep two nights, kept thinking about it over and over again,” Scheffers said. “I kept thinking all these mothers that come in here.”

Operations director Kenny Bizzell says the group put out a call for donations on social media and was overwhelmed with support.

“Collectively with a donor and the churches and private individuals we have a phenomenal, very successful Christmas this year,” Bizzell said. “The best that we’ve ever had.”

Event organizers say many families rely on the giveaway to make sure there are presents under the tree.

“A lot of them wouldn’t have any presents period because they just don’t have the money for it,” Scheffers said.

Parent Adrienne Reese says the giveaway is a real blessing for her two girls.

“They love Christmas and they can’t wait. They think they’re not going to get anything, but they are,” Reese said.

Jearleen Willis was getting gifts for her 11-year-old daughter and was beyond grateful for the community’s support.

“I think it’s absolutely wonderful,” Willis said. “I’m not surprised at all. Kalamazoo usually comes through for their own.”

The Kalamazoo Deacons Conference is providing gifts for about 135 families this year and next year hopes to help even more.