Christmas comes early for Tiny Tim director

She became Tiny Tim chairwoman in 1995.

There have been a lot of changes during the years. Tiny Tim no longer accepts or distributes used items and gifts are no longer wrapped.

And, Tiny Tim has grown. It started out giving away winter coats. Now each child gets six pair of socks, six sets of underwear, a jacket, ski pants, boots, clothing and toys.

This year Tiny Tim will serve 73 families and 170 children. The record is 204 children served several years ago.

It costs more than $6,000 a year to operate the Tiny Tim program, Gibbs said.

The confidential program decides who gets holiday help using the school's free and reduced lunch income guidelines, Gibbs explained. Parents must complete applications. That application includes questions about the children in the homes, such as clothing sizes and gender. This year only two applications were rejected.

"We've had years when we've rejected more, but the guidelines are pretty clear and most people know if they qualify," Gibbs said.

The Tiny Tim Christmas Wish program only has four permanent members. Gibbs handles the paperwork. Stephanie Backus organizes the collection and distribution of gifts. Pat and David Cornell do the fund raising.

Also helping are a host of community organizations, businesses and individuals who contribute to the program.

"I really appreciate everything everyone does to help," Gibbs said. "It actually gets easier every year. We have it down to a science."

Christmas morning Gibbs will awake with the satisfaction of knowing she helped make the holiday a bit brighter for nearly 200 area children.

"One year I got a call on Christmas morning," Gibbs recalled. "It was from a mother whose teen-age son had wanted a science kit. She said he couldn't stop crying, he was so happy. It made me feel pretty good, too."

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