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Poshard Foundation Christmas Project brings cheer to kids

  • Volunteer shoppers discuss presents for the children on their list. The Christmas Projects buys toys for abused, neglected, and abandoned children in the lower 13 counties in Illinois.

    Volunteer shoppers discuss presents for the children on their list. The Christmas Projects buys toys for abused, neglected, and abandoned children in the lower 13 counties in Illinois.
    Michele Rushing photo

  • Jo Poshard, left, greets shoppers from some of the organizations served by the Poshard Foundation Christmas Project.

    Jo Poshard, left, greets shoppers from some of the organizations served by the Poshard Foundation Christmas Project.
    Michele Rushing photo

  • From left, are Jo Poshard of the Poshard Foundation, Tina Gibbs with Ameren, and John A. Logan College President Kirk Overstreet. Gibbs presented a check to the Poshard Foundation in support of the Christmas Project.

    From left, are Jo Poshard of the Poshard Foundation, Tina Gibbs with Ameren, and John A. Logan College President Kirk Overstreet. Gibbs presented a check to the Poshard Foundation in support of the Christmas Project.
    Michele Rushing photo

  • Jo Poshard and Phyllis McCowan are ready to great volunteer shoppers from participating agencies.

    Jo Poshard and Phyllis McCowan are ready to great volunteer shoppers from participating agencies.
    Michele Rushing photo

 
By Holly Kee
hkee@localsouthernnews.com
updated: 12/17/2021 1:25 PM

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS -- A classroom at John A. Logan College in Carterville looked more like the finishing room of Santa's Workshop last week, thanks to efforts of donors across southern Illinois.

This year's Poshard Foundation Christmas Project collected 2,000 toys that will brighten the Christmas of 500 children in more than a dozen counties.

"The kids we work with have already suffered trauma," said Jo Poshard. "They've been abused, abandoned, neglected, often by the people that are supposed to be protecting them."

Poshard said that these kids are often in situations where finances make Christmas presents impossible. That's where the annual project comes in. The Poshard Foundation has been doing the project for two decades, taking over the mission of "Pat's Kids" after Pat Benton retired. However, Poshard said that much of the credit for the project's success goes to the main volunteer, Phyllis McCowan.

"She is the one that does all the buying," said Poshard. "She watches the sales and she makes this all happen."

It's a process that takes place all year for McCowan, who said the stores know her. "These are kids who get nothing," she said. "I get quality items. I want them to have a good quality toy."

McCowan said that the project is possible because of the generosity of a tremendous number of people who do good things at Christmas.

"It warms your heart to do something for children that aren't going to be getting anything," she said. "It makes you feel good when you go home in the evening."

Ameren Illinois has been a consistent supporter of the project.

"Anytime there are kids involved, everybody has a big heart for children, especially around holiday time," said Tina Gibbs, who said she's been with Ameren for 14 years and the support had already been in place for several years. "As a major business in southern Illinois, we continue to see the seed. We take this opportunity to give back to make it easier on organization that are helping."

"We want to thank Ameren Illinois for their partnership again this year as well as Hangin' by a Thread in Vienna, BlueCross BlueShield, Modern Woodmen of America, the Carterville Lions Club, Auto Credit of Southern Illinois and our individual donors. The children receiving gifts were not on anyone's Christmas list, but they are now. They are some of the neediest children in southern Illinois." said Poshard.