The Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center is working hard to bring tidings of comfort and joy to everyone in the neighborhood this holiday season.

This weekend, CRC staff and volunteers will assist Santa Claus, helping local children find free gifts for their parents and distributing gift baskets to families in need and to seniors throughout the Clintonville area.

CRC associate director Stephanie Baker said support from local churches, businesses, service clubs and individual volunteers is what has made these programs -- the children's gift shop, senior gift baskets, family gift baskets and others -- successful through the years.

"I've been (with the CRC) for 13 years and all these programs predate me," Baker said.

This weekend will find both folks coming to the center to receive holiday gifts or services and volunteers heading out into the community to provide the same to neighbors who can't come in. The CRC is looking out for anyone who might be in need or find themselves alone for the holidays.

"I run the Sponsor a Family program, so I get to see both sides," Baker said. "It's nice to get to work with the volunteers, who are happy to help and always enjoy the experience. I also hand out the packages to people, and there's so much joy and gratitude."

"It's incredible to see how many people we're serving," said volunteer coordinator Aly Hartung. "(For the senior gift-basket program), I have over 30 drivers who will deliver packages to over 200 places."

The CRC will be busy with programming this weekend, and although volunteers and those in need already have been identified for those initiatives specifically, the need -- and the need for help -- doesn't stop there.

"We participate in the (Columbus Division of Fire-sponsored) Firefighters 4 Kids program, so if there are still families in need of gifts this year, we can connect them there," Baker said. "For people who want to help, we're still collecting unwrapped toys, hats and gloves, gift cards and bus passes."

Baker said warm clothing also is needed, in particular for the local homeless population. That includes coats, hats and gloves, as well as sleeping bags and blankets, she said.

The winter can make some year-round volunteer activities more challenging, Hartung said. Unloading a truck full of donated food on a Tuesday night is different in the cold months, as is moving in-kind donations from the donation center for the food pantry, for example.

Hartung said opportunities to serve in the CRC's food pantry are always available, and added volunteers are needed to do chores for seniors -- snow shoveling in the winter, especially.

"Some volunteer jobs can take 90 minutes or so, but there are some that can be done in just 30-45 minutes a week," Hartung said.

Baker said the awareness of need often rises at the holidays, but the need is year-round.

"People are always welcome to call if they have additional needs throughout the year," she said.

"There is always a need; those needs just change from season to season."

For more information, go to clintonvillecrc.org or call 614-268-3539.

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