Once again, Fulton County Christmas Cheer is gearing up to serve needy families in the county for the holiday season from Dec. 5-8 at the Junior Fair Building at the Fulton County Fairgrounds.
Over 1,200 families were selected and invited this year to participate in the annual giveaway.
Volunteers create a make-shift store and stock it full with items families may need most. Cecily Rohrs, the event’s chairman for over 30 years, said the program prides itself on dignity, so families who participate shop each department to select items.
With a Cheer volunteer, the family representative shops a food section with everything from canned meats and soups, to mac and cheese, fruits, juices, and vegetables. Available toiletries include toilet tissue, detergents, and health aides. The toy section is stocked with brand news toys all valued at between $10 and $40.
In addition, a general store has opened to give families the opportunity to select from an assortment of hats, gloves, blankets, and sometimes Christmas decorations.
Donations are always sought. Cash donations, all spent within the county, are used to buy in economical case lots to fill spaces on the shelves. Organizers also welcome washable, full-sized blankets and store goods, particularly detergent, four-packs of toilet tissue, shampoos, body washes, boxed cereals, and canned goods with meat included.
Goods collected by school students for the effort are transported with their assistance from the school Dec. 5 to the fairgrounds. Pick-ups must be scheduled early by calling 419-572-9907.
Churches, families, businesses and community groups collecting goods are asked to deliver and help unload them Dec. 5 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Dec. 6 from 9-11 a.m. at the Junior Fair Building.
“It’s the hundreds of volunteers who make it happen,” Rohrs said. “Many volunteers sort and stock the donations on Monday and Tuesday of the busy week, and still others come to shop beside the families as they carefully make their choices from the shelved donations. It takes a big crew to set up and tear down inside the Junior Fair building, and others provide the noon meal for the volunteers.”
The massive effort is one of the county’s finest cooperative efforts, she added.
“It’s probably the coming together of all segments of our county that thrills me the most,” Rohrs said. “With loyal volunteers, I’m proud to say the program runs like a well-oiled machine.”
Families that were invited to participate this year, and honored the Nov. 15 registration deadline, will receive a letter serving as their ticket to participate. The households being served are families with children, individuals, and the elderly living on limited means.
“We hate that we have to run the Christmas giveaway so early in the month,” Rohrs said. “But we need the zest and strength of our county’s school students in our store. We simply couldn’t bring it all together without them, and with some schools having exams and time to prep for those exams before the Christmas break, the early December giveaway is the only feasible way to make it happen.”
The “Cheer” umbrella includes the Fulton County Furniture Program, which recycles vehicles, appliances, bedding, sofas, tables, and chairs. For more information, call St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Archbold, 419-445-4656.
For additional information on Fulton County Christmas Cheer visit fultoncountychristmascheer.org.