Columbia woman collecting Christmas donations, gifts for children

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COLUMBIA - Sylvia Bales Sprinkle, from Columbia, is collecting Christmas donations and gifts for children in mid-Missouri. 

Sprinkle started the Columbia Pay it Forward page on Facebook last month to spread the word. In just a few weeks, the page got more than 500 members and eight similar pages sprang up for other counties in mid-Missouri.

"If they have unwanted items, they can post them on there, and someone who might need them, can post it and they can get it. On the reverse side, if you are in need of something, you can post it on there," Sprinkle said.

The only rule is: no money needed. Cash donations are not accepted.

Sprinkle said people have been so generous she had to rent storage space to fit all the packages.

She said she started the initiative to do more to help less fortunate families and children, especially this time of year. 

"We've helped so many families with Christmas already," she said.

Sprinkle, who also has a full-time job at PepsiCo, said she got inspired from her work at the Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church and also, from watching the movie "Pay it Forward", which features an 11-year-old launching a good-will movement. She said the recent unrest in Ferguson also motivated her to be more generous and spread kindness to those in need.

Sprinkle said she plans to keep the page up, as it was initially created to be a platform where people can reach out for help all year round.

She is currently raising donations for a family in Callaway County left homeless after a fire destroyed their mobile home Monday morning. The family has a three-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son.

Donations are accepted until 6 p.m. Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve.