Oh, the things I’ve seen….

In my almost 20 years associated with ACO, I have seen more, heard more and cried more than you could ever imagine. I’ve seen the deepest poverty and despair, I’ve heard heart breaking stories, and I’ve seen tears of both fear and joy. I could talk for days about the things I’ve seen right here in our community…

In my quick estimation, over the many years of collecting and distributing toys through ACO’s Holiday Programs where I have been involved, we have given more than 14,000 children and teens Christmas gifts, toys, much needed new clothes, gift cards, filled stockings and more. I’ve seen the most generous donors and amazing volunteers work thousands of hours to make this happen. Each year has been as heartwarming and gratifying as the next.

I’ve seen crying moms driving small cars be so grateful as the volunteers are squeezing 3 big bikes in her backseat and trunk for her children’s Christmas gifts. I’ve gotten some of the kindest and most appreciative thank you notes and letters from the families that would not have had gifts for their children or a Christmas dinner without ACO. I’ve seen donors give large, generous checks to help their neighbors. And, I’ve seen many small checks from neighbors who barely had enough to share, but they gave what they could from their heart.

What I haven’t seen is a year like 2020. Ever. And in the coming weeks, I don’t know what this year’s holiday program will look like for the many, many families who are depending on ACO.

First, there’s the food! Oh my! Never, ever have I seen us move so much food through our pantry and so many cars waiting patiently in long lines for bags of groceries that they have no idea what is inside, nor do they care. They just need any food to feed their kids. While the need will continue, I don’t know if the food donations and support will. The county financial assistance for food pantries ends next week. I can only hope that our community will continue to donate food and funds to help us feed this unprecedented number of people!

We also have double the amount of children and teens registered this year through ACO to receive toys! For many years, ACO held their own toy collections and distribution to Allen ISD families and the children in rural Collin County. Last year for the first time we partnered with Toys For Tots of Collin County, agreeing to be the distributors of the toys they collect.

This year, I hear from their director that they are very low on toy collections and there may be only one toy per child available. That’s just not acceptable in my opinion!

In past years, ACO has prided ourselves in providing new toys and gifts to children and matching their wants with the toy donations. They have been given several awesome toys, stocking stuffers and more. For many of these kids, this is the ONLY TIME of year they receive anything, and certainly anything new.

Yet, I fear that what they are counting on Santa to bring- in this already challenging year- will not be under the tree on Christmas morning. I can’t imagine my own son looking forward to getting those special toys (for him it was always airplanes!) and waking up to only find one game or puzzle under the tree.

So, ACO Friends- here is want I want to see! Here’s my Christmas wish….

We have less than 2 weeks to gather thousands of new toys! ACO has always been an agency that parents could count on and I don’t want to let them down. We need your help!

In addition to Toys For Tots Collection boxes around town, PLEASE drive thru and donate new, unwrapped toys to the ACO Processing Center at 2 Butler Drive. We are open MON-SAT, 9am-4pm. Or bring them by the ACO Offices at 801 E. Main Street. Or call me and I will come pick them up!

Our deadline is Friday, December 11th for gathering enough toys and gifts for almost 2000 kids. PLEASE SHARE THIS MESSAGE WITH YOUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, COWORKERS, etc.  If you need ideas on what type of toys and gifts we need, CLICK HERE FOR OUR HOLIDAY WISHLIST!

In a year when our children struggled to learn and attend school withCOVID lurking, and were limited in who they could play with and where they could go, and had to watch their parents struggle to pay bills and keep jobs, it is NOT the year to let them down at Christmastime.


It’s not only toys! While I believe that hope and joy and happiness can be the best part of the holiday season, I know that for many families it is the worst struggle and despair. It’s even worse this year! Before we can even focus on toys and gifts, we must prevent hunger and homelessness.

Your gifts of food, as well as financial gifts help us keep these desperate families in their homes, pay a Senior’s utility bill so they stay warm and fed, provide much needed medical attention, assist in employment and education needs, and provide kind, compassionate and professional staff to hold their hand through the process. I hope you will give what you can to help our neighbors. Use the DONATE button below or visit acocares.org for more information.

While my Christmas wish is a HUGE PILE OF TOYS for Collin County kids, it is also that you know how grateful we are that you make it all possible with your amazing generosity. THANK YOU for holding hands with ACO to help our community!

Many thanks,

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