February 04, 2023

Toys for Christmas underway

For those who want to give a little extra this holiday season, the annual Toys for Christmas program is now open.


The Toys for Christmas program began in 1969, when Larry Van Werden presented the idea for a program to the Osceola Chamber board. Van Werden had seen similar programs in Nebraska, and wanted to see something similar done in Osceola.

At the time, the Chamber agreed to donate $300 to help start the program, with the caveat that the ladies at SCICAP, South Central Iowa Community Action Program, would run it. Today, the folks at SCICAP still assist the board of directors of Toys for Christmas with the program, which has been able to continue due the support of the community and local organizations.


For those who would like to donate to the program, new clothes and new toys, wrapping paper and scotch tape are welcome; any cash donations are used to purchase gifts for families. One may also adopt a family to purchase items for if they wish.

There are five donation box locations this year:

• Clark’s New and Used Furniture, 121 W Washington

• Gilbert’s True Value, 1012 Jeffreys Drive

• SalonRED, 117 South Main

• Clarke County Courthouse, 100 South Main

• Osceola Community Center, 116 South Fillmore

Donors’ names will be listed in various upcoming editions of the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune. Toys for Christmas is a 501c3.

Gifts will be distributed to families Dec. 19 or 20 at the Osceola Senior Center.


Toys for Christmas serves families who live in Clarke County, or have children who go to school at either Clarke or Murray. To be eligible, families must qualify for free or reduced lunches at school.

Members of the Clarke County Organization or Philanthropic Services (CCOPS) also work together each year to shop for gifts for area children at Walmart, and wrap them prior to distribution.

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.