When Lori Shutty saw the mounds of ruined toys and rugs and equipment piled outside her daughter’s day care in Northern Cambria after a Labor Day storm flooded the facility, it “broke my heart,” she said.
When she learned that Coal Country Daycare’s insurance would not cover flooding and that it had lost everything, she decided to help.
“The least I could do is a toy drive,” she said. “I was just broken-hearted — I got to do something.”
Shutty is running a toy drive for the day care through Sept. 27, looking particularly for toys and art supplies for children from babies through ages 5 or 6. Money or gift cards are also welcome.
“Right now we want to try to focus on the younger (kids),” she said. “Anything you could use in a day care.”
Coal Country Hangout Youth Center is a nonprofit organization that has served Northern Cambria’s children for 16 years. It also runs a day care for nearly 50 children, director Erin Bougher said.
But the day care has remained closed since Labor Day, when water flooded the entrance ramp leading into the building and poured in.
“It was pretty devastating,” Bougher said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
All the carpets and rugs had to be torn out and the lower one to two feet of walls cut out as part of the cleanup effort, she said. And all the toys, cribs, blankets and so forth were destroyed.
Since the storm, the day care has been professionally cleaned and restoration is under way now. Bougher said she had hoped to reopen next week, but wasn’t sure that would be possible.
Meanwhile, they still have no toys for when the children do return, she said.
Shutty said her daughter attends the day care, and looks forward to going each day.
“I absolutely love them” she said.
Since the day care is closed, she has been unable to run her store, Repeat After Me, asking a friend to fill in while she cares for her daughter and runs the toy drive.
So far, she said, people have sent some money but no toys.
Boxes have been set up at Repeat After Me; Heather’s Hair Gallery; and Valeria’s Market, all on Crawford Avenue in Northern Cambria.
Checks made out to Coal Country Daycare and gift cards may be mailed to 1902 Lovell Avenue, Northern Cambria, PA 15714.
Meanwhile the Northern Cambria Lions Club has organized a spaghetti dinner to benefit the day care, from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at the Slovak Club, 700 Philadelphia Ave., Northern Cambria. Dinner is $5 a person, and children 5 and under are free. Donations will also be accepted, and toys will be collected there as well.