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OCC makes holidays merry for residents

by Elisha Morrison | November 25, 2015 at 4:00 a.m.

During the holiday season, the staff and volunteers at Ouachita Children's Center, 339 Charteroak St., work to ensure all the children at the center enjoy the season.

"OCC is very mindful and committed to providing as nice a Christmas for all our youth as possible. Many of our children have never really celebrated Christmas with gifts and giving, food and festivities to any extent, and we want them to experience that and take that pleasant experience with them when they leave us," said Linda Ragsdale, executive director of OCC.

During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, in addition to the regular meals served to the residents, the children will have traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Latoya Randle, director of resident services, said the center is in need of hams, turkeys, stuffing, yams, pies and other holiday meal staples. She said anyone who wants to contribute to those or any other meal at the center can call 623-5591 or take donations to the center office.

Randle said OCC hopes to take advantage of the time the children are out of school to take them on outings. Tuesday, the center residents visited Mid-America Science Museum thanks to a scholarship from the museum, which provided five family packs of tickets to cover the visit.

Today, OCC residents will visit the Clinton Presidential Center and Heifer Village in Little Rock. Both are free to enter, but Randle said the center staff would like to be able to take the residents out for lunch, instead of just having sack lunches.

During the school break for Christmas, the OCC staff hopes to take the residents on more trips. Costs associated with activities come out of the shelter's funds, but monetary donations, movie passes, bowling or other activity certificates would allow them to do more, said Randle. Ragsdale said if they could get funding, they would like to take the children to Garvan Woodland Gardens, to see The Nutcracker or Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Due to the frequent fluctuation in the population of the center, OCC requests that any gift donations be generic. A Christmas party for the residents will be held Dec. 18, and some recommended donations include CDs, movie tickets, leggings, games, cosmetics, gift cards and MP3 players. Randle said the children population starts at age 6.

Volunteers are also needed to help decorate the outside of the center for Christmas, and decorate trees inside. Replacement ornaments and decorations are also needed, Randle said.

Beyond the holidays, OCC is in need of new or used sofas, love seats and bean bags to replace or add to older items the residents use in the center's common areas. They also need room decor, comforter sets and area rugs for the children's rooms. Ragsdale said the biggest need is a "serviceable, dependable auto" they can use to take children to appointments, court hearings and other places they may need to go.

Ragsdale said OCC is grateful for any support of help from the community during the holidays and throughout the year.

"These kids are our hearts," Randle said.

Local on 11/25/2015

Print Headline: OCC makes holidays merry for residents

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