ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Nathan Whisenant has helped kids have an unforgettable Christmas for eight years through the CARE Community Center, Inc. collecting toys to hand out.

This year, the number of families in need is like no other.

“By this time last year we were probably 100 less than we are now but I think we could be pushing 200 to 300 more [applicants] before Friday,” Whisenant said.

Usually, the CARE center can depend on regular donors to help meet its goals but Whisenant worries that won’t be the case this holiday season.

“I think this year we may come up a little short if I don’t have the community push in and get across the finish line to get this covered this year,” Whisenant said.

Karon Parrish is a school counselor at Crossroads Alternative Learning Center in Rogers.

The school is home to students from 6th – 12th grade, an age group that tends to be forgotten during toy drives.

“Families have lost their jobs, students have lost their jobs and they’ve lost almost a year of learning,” Parrish said.

Many of the students at Crossroads receive help from the CARE Center, proving even the smallest of gifts go far in our own backyard.

“We may never know the impact we have on a child until years later,” Parrish said. “They come back to us as an adult and they say, you know, remember when you gave me that pair of socks – I felt so warm and you thought so much about me to take care of me.”

“They’re happy and they’re so excited but the look on the parent’s faces that they’re able to give their child a nice, clean, new gift and it’s something they might not be able to do otherwise,” Whisenant said.

You can donate toys to the Care Community Center at 2510 N 17th Street Suite 202, Rogers, AR 72756 until Dec. 17.

Toys are needed specifically for kids/teens between 12 to 13 years old.

Statement from Kimberly Porter the Exec. Director of CARE Community Center –

CARE for the Holidays is such an essential program within the community every year.  CARE serves over 2,000 children each year as part of this work. Families can apply for assistance until Dec. 10 at 11:59 P.M. via our website at www.carecc.org or submit a paper application by the end of business at our office, 2510 N 17th Street Suite 202, Rogers, AR 72756. Toys for Tots serves Benton, Carroll, Madison Counties through CARE Community Center and Washington County through LifeSource International in Fayetteville.”

“For families in need of food assistance through the holiday season and otherwise, our pantry is allowing one visit each week(by appointment) between now and Christmas! You can schedule an appointment on our website under the “Root Cellar” tab or call (479) 246-0104 24 hours in advance.”