Indian River VFC raises $12,000 for local children
Dorothy “Dottie” Gudger loved donating toys at Christmas — so much that she shopped year-round for the perfect gifts. Having grown up a “needy” child, Gudger especially came to appreciate the kindness of others. After her family moved to Millsboro, Gudger gave back through the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company’s annual toy drive.
When Gudger passed away in 2011, her family partnered with the IRVFC to rename the holiday collection the “Nana’s Kids Campaign” in her honor. All gifts go to local families in need in the Long Neck, Oak Orchard and Riverdale communities.
Now in its second year, Nana’s Kids is expected to exceed last year’s contributions. By early December, they had collected $5,800 in monetary donations and $7,000 worth of toys. A fraction of the gifts were loaded into the corner of IRVFC, including bicycles, dolls, games, blankets, coats, clothes and bags of other goodies.
With nearly $13,000 collected this winter, the Nana’s Kids campaign had already raised $25,000 in two years.
Much of the donations come from the kindness of local donors, sending toys and cash through community partners, including County Bank, Community Church of Oak Orchard, the Boys & Girls Club of Oak Orchard/Riverdale, the Nanticoke Indian Association and Grotto Pizza of Long Neck.
“She was a great person who really did love this community,” said Carol Taylor, one of Gudger’s daughters, of her mother. “She believed community service made the community stronger … [and] we called Millsboro home.”
Even her County Bank teller, Pam Shockley, remembers Gudger talking about the deals she got year-round, preparing to help.
The toy drive and leadership has helped restore Taylor’s own faith in humanity, she said.
“Out in the terrible world, some people still cared about others — just as my mom always had.”
The kindness of others has extended across multiple states as others donated to help Taylor bring cheer to Sussex County, honoring her mother’s legacy of generosity.
The Boys & Girls Club will coordinate distribution through churches and the Nanticoke association. The list of children and families in need comes from nearby churches, community groups, and East Millsboro and Long Neck elementary and Millsboro Middle schools.
“Carol Taylor has just been a godsend to us,” said Patrick Miller, president of IRVFC and the local Boys & Girls Club. “But the community is pulling together to say, ‘We can make this a better place if we all work together.’”
Toys and donations were being collected until Dec. 19. For more information, visit https://sites.google.com/site/nanaskidscampaign/home.