CARTERVILLE -- More than 400 children from Mount Vernon to Cairo will benefit from the Poshard Foundation's massive toy distribution Monday.
Glenn and Jo Poshard, co-founders of the Poshard Foundation for Abused Children at John A. Logan College, said 1,200 toys and other gifts have been donated to the organization. And 18 local agencies advocating for children will handle the distribution.
Glenn said the mission is to do whatever it can for children.
"These are children who aren't on anybody's list for Christmas," he said.
Jo said the Foundation begins gathering toys earlier in the year. Social service agencies work with them and come to "shop" Monday and Tuesday to get toys for the children on their lists.
The toys come from the volunteers shopping for them and individual donors like Richard Clark with Tri-State Business Equipment in Harrisburg. Each year, he hosts a Christmas party, which results in donations from his guests.
Ameren Illinois has also contributed $3,500 for toys and other Christmas needs such as diapers, clothing, and coats.
BlueCross/BlueShield of Illinois has contributed $500 for toys, as well.
"We want to thank Richard Clark for his partnership again this year, as well as Ameren, BlueCross/BlueShield, and our individual donors," Jo said. "These children are some of the neediest children in Southern Illinois."
Jo said there are a variety of different requests from children.
"One young boy asked for firewood for Christmas because his family needed it," she said.
Not only does the Foundation help with Christmas, but it helps full-time with children's needs throughout the year.
"Sometimes abused children is an issue that gets swept under the rug," Glenn said. "It's not an issue communities want to embrace, but abuse occurs two-and-a-half times higher in the region compared to the rest of the state."
Glenn added that one of the great things about the Foundation is that if there is an immediate need, help can be provided to a child.
"The board can meet within 15 minutes and get things done quickly," he said.
Trina Irwin, Director of CASA of Saline County, said the Poshards "do a lot" for her agency.
"I love them. They're my favorite people in the world," she said, with a smile.
Karen Henderson, Director of Caritas Family Solutions in Carterville, said she and her colleagues shopped for 11 children for her organization. She said the Poshard Foundation helps to bring joy to children who have so many different backgrounds.
"They help strengthen the families in Southern Illinois," she said.