ST. GEORGE — With Halloween festivities now in the rearview, the holiday season is in full swing and one local charity is back with hopes to bring holiday cheer to those in need.

Hundreds of volunteers came to share the Christmas spirit at the KONY “Coins For Kids” wrapping event at the Dixie Center, St. George, Utah, Dec 19, 2018 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

While some Southern Utah residents can already smell a smoked turkey and dream of sweet potatoes, others may already be stressing about the financial implications of Christmas.

Last year, 544 Washington County families were without this worry as KONY’s Coins for Kids distributed toys and gifts to 1,632 children through the nonprofit organization, the largest year of applications to date.

KONY Country Coins for Kids President/CEO Carl Lamar told St. George News that the organization is ramping up for its 2023 application and donation drive for families needing a helping hand, or those with one to lend.

“Every year for over three decades the Southern Utah community has continued to amaze me,” he said. “What started as a small group of country radio station employees wanting to help out has grown into a community of Samaritans wanting to lend a hand.”

To qualify, all parents or guardians seeking assistance must fill out an online application at the KONY’s Coins for Kids website between Wednesday, Nov. 1, and Nov. 15. Failure to apply during this time period will result in not being qualified for assistance this year.

KONY DJ Amy Chesley joined over 100 Santas and dozens of helpers volunteering to deliver gifts for KONY Coins for Kids charity event Thursday night, St. George, Utah, Dec. 20, 2018 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

As in previous years, donations are needed from businesses and individuals who can afford to make up the bulk of love shared through gift-giving. Not all gifts have to be in the form of monetary donations.

KONY Country morning show host Amy Chesley said one of her favorite parts of the holiday drive is shopping.

“I really do enjoy shopping for and wrapping gifts,” she said. “And just being out sharing in the community spirit during this time of year. It never gets old.”

Individuals, families or businesses that wish to adopt a family can sign up on the website from Wednesday, Nov. 1, to Dec. 8. Other important dates to remember include, shopping for gifts on Dec. 18, gift wrapping on Dec. 19 and gift delivery on Dec. 20.

For those with a big heart, but a busier schedule, donations can be made at the KONY’s Coins for Kids website with a credit card, PAYPAL, Amazon, Venmo @CoinsForKids or dropped off at Canyon Media Studios, 3143 S. 840 East, St. George.

New unwrapped toys ($15 minimum) can be dropped off at many of the local elementary schools or any of the US Marines Toys for Tots collection containers.

Southern Utah residents can also donate when they shop online using Amazon Smiles and then link to KONY Charities Inc. for additional opportunities to give.

(L-R): KONY Coins for Kids President Carl Lamar, 99.9 KONY Country morning show co-host Amy Chesley, Majestic Fields Principal Travis Wilstead and 99.9 KONY Country morning show co-host Marty Lane attend a check presentation, Washington City, Utah, Jan. 28, 2021 | Photo by Hollie Stark, St. George News

“Amazon will donate a percentage of your purchase to Coins for Kids,” Lamar said. “It costs you nothing extra.”

KONY’s Coins for Kids assistance is intended for children 2-17 years of age, although 18-year-old children residing in the same home may apply if they are still attending high school. Families may apply for infants under 2 years of age if there are children in the family ages 2-17. 

KONY’s Coins for Kids Chairman Brian Musso said the organization is dependent solely upon charitable contributions that are tax deductible. Families in need can also be adopted at Canyon Media offices, he noted.

“I think we have had quite an impact on the community,” Musso said. “Serving 1,500 children each year, that’s equivalent to three elementary schools full of students or one of our large high schools.”

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