LITTLE FALLS — The Herkimer County Hunger Coalition’s Gram Lorraine Children’s Christmas Program is in full swing.

After several of weeks of gaining sponsors and receiving donations, the program is ready to have registered parents or guardians of children in need this holiday season pick up their gifts.

Coalition directors Dave Petkovsek and Kay Lenarcic with the Staff Sgt. Joseph "Stash" Zawtocki Chapter of the program Friday handed out the gifts at Holy Family Parish in Little Falls to those who registered.

Ray Lenarcic, coalition director, said the program provides recipients with at least four items of clothing, boots and a toy, book or game of the child’s choice.

He said more than "100 deserving children" will receive items in the Little Falls area.

The program reaches about 800 to 1,000 children, annually.

The perimeter of gymnasium at Holy Family Parish Friday was lined in holiday wrapping paper and gift bags. One gift was a sled, with a big red bow on it.

The program also has chapters at Fisher Elementary School in Mohawk, Barringer Road Elementary School in Ilion, Frankfort-Schuyler Elementary School in Frankfort, Poland Elementary School, Mount Markham Elementary School in West Winfield, Owen D. Young Elementary School in Van Hornesville, Harry Hogue Elementary School in Fort Plain, the BOCES Migrant Worker Program and Arc Herkimer.

Ray Lenarcic said the Little Falls chapter was the first to distribute gifts this season, with the other chapters to follow in the coming week.

He estimates several hundred sponsors "infuse" approximately $100,000 into the local economy every year with the program. He said approximately $3 million has been put into the economy through the program since 1978.

Since 2000, Ray Lenarcic estimates an average of 800 to 1,000 children benefit from the program — with an estimated 50,000 children since 1978.

Program coordinators include Ray and Kay Lenarcic, Petkovsek, Julie Crouse, Pam Munger, Mike Paragi, Karen Rankins, Barb Horwald, Betsy Briggs, Lucille Hand, Jeff Crouse, Barb Brink, Julie Metz, Barb Kline, Marissa Harvey, Jackie Lewis and Christine McKinney.

As an extension of the program, several hundred children receive new winter coats in early November as part of the Brenda Ladd Lahaie Winter Coat program.