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Every year, Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM) raises money and gathers toys and food for thousands of area families needing assistance. This year, the number of families needing help is significantly larger due to Hurricane Harvey. This event left many displaced that are still living in hotels, with family or friends, and even in other temporary housing until their home can be repaired or they can locate a new, permanent residence.

The Empty Stocking Toy Drive, a project of HAAM, strives to provide three toys to each child on their list – a daunting task certainly – but with thousands more children on the list due to Harvey, HAAM’s operations are being stretched to the maximum and the shelves are pretty bare.

Stepping up to help are several local businesses and one special school. Three students of the MOSAIC Transition Program at The Cambridge School have made it their mission to offer families hope at Christmas.

On Dec. 13, an Humble ISD school bus will be parked in front of The Cambridge School from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. for a Fill-A-Bus event. They are asking all nearby residents and local businesses to come together or to individually purchase and deliver any new, unwrapped toys to literally fill the bus. All toys will benefit local, displaced children in need, between the ages of preschool and middle school.

Ultimately, they will be given to the Empty Stocking Fund. If anyone is unable to make it to the school on that day, there are boxes located throughout the building to help make donating an easy process.

In addition to the toys, the school is also collecting new or gently used blankets to be distributed to the HAAM toy store, the local Meals on Wheels program, or vouched out to families in need. These items will not only help the younger children, but also families and adults, too.

“The goal of the students that began the initiative [to hold the Fill-A-Bus event] is to make a positive impact within our own community. They wanted to help others and be a model of confidence in difficult times,” said Quinn Perkins, teacher in the MOSAIC Transition Program at The Cambridge School. 

Fifteen-month-old Ethan Fridhaim enjoyed Christmas in the Park with his parents. The event was held Saturday in Kingwood’s Town Center, with a tree-lighting ceremony rounding out the festivities. Photo by Patsy Oliver

At Planet Ford in Humble, Empty Stocking will be the beneficiary of a fun Fill-the-Ford event.

“Fill-the-Ford is planned to kick off a community-wide toy drive for our community for Christmas. This year has been extremely difficult for so many and this will add cheer to many families. We appreciate Planet Ford this year for staging the event and look forward to meeting the new general manager, John Centner,” said Millie Garrison, executive director of HAAM.

“The donations collected in this event will help keep families warm inside and out with a greater sense of security this holiday season,” said Garrison. “A special thanks to the MOSAIC Transition Program at The Cambridge School for the time spent organizing and helping to make this season just a little bit brighter for so many men, women and children.”

Also on Dec. 13, the HAAM resale shop, Loop 494, is hosting a Cocoa and Cookies toy drive. Residents are asked to decorate HAAM’s Christmas tree with gift cards (not to exceed $25.) Homemade refreshments will be served from 4-7 p.m. at the shop; a drive-through option will be available for those wishing to donate toys or gift cards without stopping.

“We are expecting 1,000 more children in need this year in the aftermath of Harvey and other events, so your donations will make an even bigger impact,” added Garrison. “Many of the families we serve have lost so much in what seemed like a moment’s notice.”

HAAM is located at 1302 First Street in Humble. For details, call Garrison at 281-446-1314. The Cambridge School is located on the backside of The Community Learning Center at 18901 Timber Forest Dr., Atascocita. For questions about this event or how or what to donate, contact Perkins at 281-641-7445.