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Our Neighbor's Child Still Needs Help

Christmas is coming ever closer, but there's no rest in sight for the local moms and dads who make up the backbone of Our Neighbor's Child (ONC).

They're still as busy as ever collecting new toys and clothes for more than 400 needy families in the Centreville, Chantilly and Clifton area. And that number, said ONC Executive Director Kelly Lavin of Centreville's Hunt Chase community, includes some 1,200 children.

"I just got two more families today, asking for help," she said Tuesday afternoon. "And we're going to get more requests, right up to Christmas Eve."

ONC is in its 12th year of helping the community at Christmastime. And although it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort on behalf of those involved in the undertaking, they're glad to help any way they can.

"Most of us have full-time jobs, but this is our way of giving back to the community for all that Fairfax County gives to us," said Louise Trimble, also of Hunt Chase. "Some parents even save some of the gifts we give them, for an upcoming event, such as a birthday. In the children's eyes, they're getting these gifts from their parents."

THE OPERATION has grown so large, over the years, that ONC now has 200 volunteers, and Trimble said each one brings something new to the table. "It's a pretty phenomenal program," she said. "And one person can truly make a difference just by doing one little piece."

For example, a family without a radio or TV requested a radio, and Kathy Sposa of Sully Estates was able to find someone who had an extra TV and was glad to donate it. Said Sposa: "When things like that come together, it's pretty neat."

Virginia Run's Sharon Maria, coordinating the "giving trees" in the local churches, called participating in ONC both a "humbling experience" and "a nice way to start the season."

The giving tree in the Fair Lakes Wal-Mart will stay up through Friday, Dec. 12. People may select a Christmas-tree ornament listing a specific gift needed, purchase it and give it to a cashier at check-out.

Gifts may also be dropped off at Long & Foster, Realtors, in Centreville Square, and at Sully Station Children's Center at Sully Park and Stone Creek drives, in Centreville.

Presents for teen-agers are still badly needed, and gift certificates are a great way to fill the bill. Lavin said gift certificates for Kohl's, Target and Best Buy are particularly welcome. That way, teens may buy the specific CDs or clothing items they'd like.

ONC also has a wish list of its own to help it do its job. Office supplies needed are: Plain and greeting-card envelopes, copy paper, highlighters, markers, gift tags, tape, Avery labels, trash bags, shipping tags and color-coded dot labels. E-mail KMLavin@aol.com.