ATTLEBORO - Halloween is just around the corner, but there's a group of volunteers hard at work who already have Christmas on their radar.
And with good reason.
That's because the Attleboro Area Council for Children - the organizers of the Christmas Is For Kids gift drive - will be celebrating an important milestone this year: the 30th anniversary, and the organizers, affectionately called elves, are planning two events to commemorate the occasion.
The council kicked off the campaign earlier this month, which means many area children are going to have a very happy Christmas due to their efforts.
But before the list is published and the donors start shopping and the elves begin organizing all the goodies, the council plans to hold two events to thank everyone for their support over the years.
The first one, a 30th Anniversary Bash, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 26 to celebrate new and veteran elves and all the donors who have supported the program through the years. The event will take place from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Attleboro Elks Lodge. Tickets are $25.
"We wanted to get everybody together to celebrate the fact that we've been able to help the community's children for 30 years," said the gift drive's longtime Chairwoman Kelly Fox, who has been involved with the campaign for 21 years.
"There are so many people who volunteer their time and when we're together, we're always working so hard. We wanted to do something that would just be fun," she added.
The Christmas Is For Kids campaign depends on the generosity of volunteers as well as donors. On an average night, there are 20 to 30 people working at headquarters, all volunteers. In any given year, about 125 people assist with the campaign.
At the anniversary bash, the council will also present its Champion for Children awards. This year's recipients are: Home Depot of South Attleboro; Bridgewater State University Circle-K and American Credit Counseling in Plainville.
Take a tour
The other headline event will be a "Back Lot Tour" of the Christmas Is For Kids seasonal headquarters.
It will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10 at the drive's headquarters in the former Brennan Middle School on County Street.
Attendees will get a behind-the-scenes look at how the gift drive works and how the magic comes together. The Back Lot Tour is free and open to the public.
Visitors will also be able to sign up as a donor and be matched with a child on that day.
"It's quite a process. Many people ask us what happens after they drop off the donations. That's why we're opening up the center, so people can see the process," Fox said.
Last year, Christmas Is For Kids provided gifts to about 1,000 children in the Attleboro area, according to Fox.
The council recently sent out the applications and story sheets to parents and participating organizations in the area.
For the first time this year, the story sheets, which provide information on the child's holiday wish lists as well as clothing sizes, hobbies, will be available before Thanksgiving.
The list will be published in The Sun Chronicle on Sunday, Nov. 24 and the phone lines will also open that day so donors can call in to be matched to children.
The gift drive then will run through Dec. 11, with gifts distributed on or about Dec. 17.