Holiday handouts from a well-known midstate toy drive will come with a price tag this Christmas.
The parents and guardians of children who receive gifts through the Kids Yule Love charity will be required to perform four hours of community service.
The measure is being implemented, in part, to cut back on people taking advantage of the annual toy giveaway.
The hundreds who get presents through the organization in Macon and a dozen-plus other area communities will have to have their service hours at churches, schools and other places recorded and noted by volunteer groups.
In announcing the requirement Wednesday, Kids Yule Love CEO Joe Allen said, “It’s like Santa Claus; we’re gonna check it. If they do it, they’re nice. If they don’t, they’re naughty. Put it that way, because they’re not taking care of their children. ... They’re gonna have to give back.”
The charity’s toy drive, founded in 1986, has on occasion been abused by those it serves, Allen said. Recipients have been known to return presents to stores the toys come from and exchange them for cash refunds.
Allen said no one he’d talked to about the community-service plan opposed it, and that it wasn’t intended to punish.
“It’s giving them some respect that they are giving back to the community,” he said.
People who are handicapped and unable to volunteer will be allowed to enlist the help of others.
The community service must be completed by Nov. 10. Details can be found on the Kids Yule Love website.
Volunteer Macon will help put applicants in touch with organizations such as food banks and other groups that need volunteers.
The required four hours can be logged over a single day or split up over two.
Gigi Rolfes, executive director of Volunteer Macon, said the work that volunteers do will not be difficult.
“We’re not out there with a hammer,” she said. “We’re not making you pick up trash. ... That’s not what it’s going to be.”
To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397 or follow him on Twitter@joekovacjr.