It's hard to believe that Christmas and Hanukkah are almost here -- and Loaves & Fishes' SHOP FOR YOUR KIDS toy distribution day is in a week (Dec. 19).

Once again, we need your help to provide children in Ayer, Devens, Harvard, Groton, Littleton and Shirley with toys, books, puzzles and games. Last year, 529 children received gifts. We anticipate about the same number this year, but because of the late date of Thanksgiving, we are way down in toy donations.

I'm hoping you can make this year's holidays special for children who might otherwise not receive gifts. Our goal is to give every child several toys, a puzzle, a game and some books.

For "tweens" and teens, we're looking for jewelry, watches, accessories or toiletry items for girls and boys as well as sports items. We also want gift cards (with a value up to $25) for the teens, since they don't get toys.

Gifts can be donated at police stations and post offices in all of the towns we serve; in the food bins at Donelan's in Groton and Littleton; at the Littleton and Shirley libraries; and at most churches. Collection sites are listed at

If you want a receipt for the items you drop off, please attach your name, address and the value of the item(s) to the gift itself and we will send you one. (All donations are tax-deductible.)

In addition, toys, gift cards and other items can be dropped off at the pantry (234 Barnum Road, Devens) on Friday, Dec. 13, from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. If you prefer to give us a check, please make it payable to Loaves & Fishes (P.O. Box 1, Ayer, MA 01432) and write "SFYK" in the memo section of the check. We will use any cash we receive to purchase gifts so that no one will be left out.

If you have any questions about the program, or would like to volunteer to help us, please contact Deb Roufos ( or Lauren Farrell (lauren_jim@ or call Karen DeGagne at the pantry (978-772-4627).

Thank you, and happy holidays to you all.