Grove City Record

Community groups work to spread holiday spirit

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CHRIS PARKER/THISWEEKNEWS
Grove City firefighters (from right) Greg Rudduck, Tim Damopoulos and Dan Levesque sort through toys donated to Firefighters for Kids in their station located at 3650 Hoover Road Friday, Dec. 14.
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The Holiday Season is a time when a number of community organizations help they needy.

The White Christmas Program, which was begun more than 35 years ago by the Southwest Christian Ministerial Association, is once again in full swing.

"We started as an outreach program so nobody had to make a decision whether to eat ... or (buy) toys for their children," said Pat Fahy, the program coordinator. "Over the years, we've helped many people celebrate the holiday without worrying about where their next meal was coming from."

To support the White Christmas Program, local schools collect non-perishable food items.

"We've got 18 area schools that are involved from elementary all the way to high schools and career academy," Fahy said. "We purchase bacon, eggs, butter, potatoes, chicken and a ham."

The items are sorted into boxes with one box given to each family. Last year, 250 families received boxes.

"We'll go through approximately 10,000 items," Fahy said.

The school cafeteria at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 3752 Broadway, serves as the distribution point where the organizing, sorting and shipping occurs, Fahy said.

The leftover items are donated to the Grove City Food Pantry, which also helps with the collection.

"That gives us a start on food for the year," said pantry president Don Swogger. "It gives us a boost."

The holidays are an important time of the year for the pantry, Swogger said.

"The need is always growing," Swogger said. "It's through the residents of our community that keep us going."

The White Christmas program operations will take place at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Dec. 20-22, and Dec. 23. Information about volunteering is available by emailing Fahy at patrickjfahy01@gmail.com.

Also involved with White Christmas are the students involved of the Grove City Parks and Recreation Department's Programmed After-school Recreation for Kids (PARK), creating cards to go with the food donations. The individual PARK sites also created their own service projects.

"They all try to do something a little different," said Recreation Superintendent Ed Merritt. "They always try to do a little something to give back and foster that with the children in the program."

The groups at Buckeye Woods and Highland Park elementary schools created Christmas cards and messages to send to members of the military, the Richard Avenue Elementary School group worked to collect 200 non-perishable food items for the Grove City Food Pantry and the children of J.C. Sommer PARK decorated stockings and cards for patients at Nationwide Children's Hospital, according to a news release.

The Jackson Township Fire Department also is conducting its annual Firefighters for Kids Program, collecting toys to help less fortunate parents provide gifts for their children at Christmas. Each child receives five toys.

"It's something to contribute to the community that we're a part of," said Firefighter Luke Smith. "We definitely enjoy participating and helping families have a decent Christmas."

Unwrapped toys and gift cards will be collected through Christmas Eve for children up to 12 years old at all three fire stations: Station 201, 4343 Grove City Road; Station 202, 3650 Hoover Road; and Station 203, 2650 London-Groveport Road. Smith said they are always looking for items for older boys and girls such as cheaper electronics or sports gear.

"We always get a lot of baby dolls and Barbie dolls," for younger children, he said.

Last year, the department gave toys to 350 children.

Smith said he is not sure how long the department has participated in the program, but it's at least 30 years.

"One of the guys' dad used to build toys to give to kids," he said.

mdubovec@thisweeknews.com

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