Wildfire victims get a boost from Hill Country Christmas Bureau

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by JADE MINGUS

KVUE

Posted on December 19, 2011 at 12:36 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 19 at 3:49 AM

CEDAR PARK, Texas — A charity gave back to hundreds of families in need Sunday morning with a special toy distribution day. The Hill Country Christmas Bureau collects donations and gifts to give families who can’t afford presents this year.

On Sunday morning, dozens of vehicles lined up at the Buttercup Creek Shopping Center in Cedar Park. Volunteers delivered presents, including stuffed animals and bicycles.

This year, 500 families needed help. Among them were victims of the devastating wildfires that burned through Central Texas on Labor Day.

Michael Whelan lost his home and all his belongings in a fire just as he passed the bar exam and started his own family law practice on Crystal Falls Parkway in Leander. The Bureau is helping his children during their time of rebuilding from scratch.

"We're able to start over and start a business at the same time, and be able to recover from this, so we are immensely grateful for it," Whelan said.

The Hill Country Christmas Bureau has given back to the community for 32 years. The group gives each family food and two to three new items for each child.

Depending on donations, the non-profit also provides each family with new blankets and a space heater. The group serves Northwest Austin, Cedar Park, Leander, Liberty Hill and additional areas.

The president of Hill Country Christmas Bureau, Diane Gattuso, said the giving does not end with distribution day. Often schools learn that children did not receive anything for Christmas when they return to class after the holidays. The Bureau will provide gifts to them as well, and will continue to accept donations.

You can reach the Hill Country Christmas Bureau by phone at 512-773-5878, or by mail at:

1624 Shenandoah Drive
Cedar Park, Texas 78613

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