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Louisiana Early Steps collecting toys, clothes for local families in need through Dec. 21

LAPLACE — Diane Robichaux has seen River Parishes families struggle financially amid the medical costs and responsibility of caring for a child with special needs.

Robichaux and Maria Stelly, occupational and speech therapists for Louisiana Early Steps, provide early intervention services to approximately 50 children in St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes. They serve children age newborn to 3 years old.

This month, they are hosting a toy and clothing drive to give back to families who could use a dose of Christmas kindness.

“These families have heavy schedules and a lot of doctor’s appointments,” Robichaux said. “Several parents have had to quit their jobs to take care of their kids full-time. When you go into their homes, there are some kids who have nothing. There’s not a toy in sight. Those are the types of kids we definitely want to help.”

New clothing and unpackaged toys are preferred for a nicer presentation, Robichaux said, though gently used donations are welcome.

The biggest needs are boys and girls clothing sizes newborn to 4T, blankets, bottles and age appropriate toys.

Toddler puzzles, books, shape sorters and simple cause and effect toys with lights and sounds aid learning in developmentally delayed children by providing sensory input, Robichaux said.

“In the past, Early Steps therapists have chosen to bless a particular family,” Robichaux said. “This is different because we’re collecting for a group of families.”

Contact Robichaux or Stelly via Facebook messenger to arrange a time for pickup. Cash donations are accepted via PayPal at mahstelly@yahoo.com or via Venmo by searching @Diane-Robichaux.