HAZLETON – In addition to the large-scale Christmas Gifts for Kids Program that Catholic Social Services helps to organize in the Scranton area, the agency also has two other gift distribution programs in Carbondale and Hazleton.

After registering 250 families in October, the toy giveaway in Hazleton will take place on Dec. 17 this year. Parents and caregivers will once again be able to shop and pick up toys and clothes for their children.

Lee Ann Lywiski, who helps organize the Mountain City’s gift program, said the event would not be possible without the support of area churches and generous community members.

“We have a lot of churches that will take tags and put them on a tree. Parishioners will take those tags, purchase the items, bring them back to the church and then they find their way up here,” she explained.

With decades-high inflation, Lywiski, who also manages the Saint Joseph Food Pantry operated by Catholic Social Services, has seen many new people looking for assistance this year.

“With the price of everything going up, people are struggling. We’re seeing a lot of new faces come through our pantry and for the toy program,” she explained.

The story is very similar in the city of Carbondale. Catholic Social Services helped distribute toys and gifts to several hundred families on Tuesday, December 13, at Saint Rose of Lima Church.

The distribution began at 8 a.m. and lasted for the entire day.

In both areas, staff of Catholic Social Services helped fulfill the agency’s mission by responding compassionately to the needs of the community and replacing despair with hope.

“It is such a joyful time because the parents are getting a need met and we’re getting to help and that feels good. It feels good when you get to help somebody,” Lywiski said.