Another successful Gifts for Kids program has come and gone but a lot of happy memories for many children in the Conneaut School District area will remain. There were 330 bags of gifts for individual children along with 44 additional children whose parents came to pick through the many still great items we had left after Thursday’s distribution. Thanks to the lovely winter weather we had during the week, we added additional days and hours for parents to come to pick up the gifts and donated items. We had tables and tables of donated toys (brand new and gently used), books, blankets, hats, socks, gloves, mittens and pajamas.
This year Titusville RSVP donated 182 hand-made wooden toys thanks to Pat & Gene Saeger who made the initial contact and helped distribute them on the day of the give-away. Throughout the year Sis Lane collects new socks for this program and this year nearly 1,500 were collected and bundled up in groups of 3, according to size. Over 300 of these pairs of socks were from our Altar Rosary Society and the Family and Community Christian Association in Meadville (formerly the Y WCA). The Conneaut Valley Elementary School and Middle School collected new toys and blankets, under the direction of the nurse Tami Bossard. Conneaut Lake Elementary School collected new pajamas and books, under the direction of guidance counselor Kristen Bazylak. Conneaut Lake Middle School provided gifts for 4 children this year. Hanna Fuller, youth leader from Hartstown Presbyterian Church purchased many toys for older children. A couple from Conneautville provided 13 Christmas bags with new twin blankets and a teddy bear in each. Dr. Tom Kellogg once again donated 300 toothbrushes for various children’s ages.
So many individuals were responsible for the success of this program. Twelve angels went to Fallowfield UM Church; twenty-two to North Shenango Presbyterian Church; four to the PA DEP; thirty-six to High Street Community Church; ten to MMC ; twenty to Fat Boys’ Saloon; ten to Trinity UM Church; forty to Church of Christ in Conneautville; twenty to Conneautville American Legion Auxiliary Post 610; and 119 angels were generously taken by the parishioners of OLQA. In addition, Conneaut Lake Presbyterian Church worked with 6 families and their 19 children to provide clothes, toys, bedding and food vouchers for them and distributed the gifts on December 17th at their church.
Beginning Sunday, December 11th, even more volunteers worked tirelessly setting up and arranging tables and chairs; sorting and arranging the bags of gifts; sorting and arranging all of the donated items that filled our church hall. Work was done Sunday afternoon, Monday morning and afternoon, Tuesday morning, Thursday morning and afternoon, Friday morning and Saturday morning. Volunteers who helped out in any capacity are: Monica and Larry Addison, Carolyn Agnew, Bernadette Black, Aaron Brown, Roberta Bullock, Carole Chulko, Fred & Joanne Cunningham, Barb Daub, Brian Delmar, Mike & Sue Drexler, JoAnn Elwell, Pat Gilfoyle, Marty, Cindy & A.J. Hoesch, Pam Humes, Sarah Kiser, Ann Koscelek, Bob & Sis Lane, Carolyn Melby, Jeremy Morian, Bonnie Morini, Claudia Predis, Charlene Prince, Gene & Pat Saeger, John & Jan Skendall, Judy Styborski, Jolene Tubbs, Linda Wasson, Ruth Watson, Dolly Werner, Cheryl Wielobob and Annie Wurdock. A special thank you goes out to Father Jeff for giving a very prayerful blessing and for being so supportive in all that we were doing; to my husband Tim and my family for being so patient and supportive; for Margaret Staahl for being my right-hand person in all of our Samaritan projects; and for the Novosel family- Ken, Theresa, Rebecca, Nicholas, Adam, Jacob and even Theresa’s dad, Jim – who came whenever there was a need. I heartily thank each and every one of you.
May you all have a blessed Christmas and New Year.
Sis Lane, one of our parishioners, has been collecting socks for children for many years and donating them to various organizations in the county. The past few years these socks have gone to the Samaritan Gifts for Kids program. Many parents in this program specifically ask for socks for their children. At each door of the church, you will see boxes labeled, “Socks for Kids.” Donations of any sizes of socks will be greatly appreciated.
HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY SAM! . . A timeline of the Samaritans of the Conneaut Lake area.
The year is 1982, a child dies of malnutrition in Conneaut Lake Area. Seem hard to imagine? A group of Our Lady Queen of Americas women’s bible study group thought so. Thirty years ago they fore-fronted an effort to provide the residence of Conneaut Lake with the basic human rights food, clothing and shelter.
Supported by the ministerium of CL, in conjunction with the Erie County Food Bank, Second Harvest and the Center for Family Services, qualified families could receive food on a monthly basis. In the early years, 80-90 families received food from the kitchen of OLQA and clothing seasonally from The Trinity United Methodist Church. A Clothing and Furniture Warehouse in East Fallowfield Township Building thrived for 15 years starting in 1986 with the proceeds used for assistance in rent and utilities to those in need. Greenwood Elementary later become home to the thrift store until 2008.
With only the spirit of the Samaritans surviving, it took 2 years, 1 priest, a monetary donation and a thriving community of support to open THE HOLY GROUND THRIFT on Sept 23, 2010. A permanent home to the Samaritan’s vision of the women 30 years ago and the men and women who volunteer to keep it thriving today is located behind Our Lady Queen of America’s church in Conneaut Lake. Within a year, the current officers and a newly appointed Board of Direct (represented by four area churches), created bylaws, incorporated the organization, became sales and real estate tax exempt and the name “Holy Ground Thrift Shop” was registered with the commonwealth allowing Samaritans to be legally compliant with all governmental agencies.
Currently in operation, the Holy Ground Thrift store generated $15,710.00 in annual revenue with the assistance of its dedicated crew of 50 volunteers alternating twice a week to maintain weekly hours of operations. 133 sources donate regularly helping 106 households in the local area with a large percent of revenue being paid for delinquent utility bills. This need continues to grow annually. NINTY families benefit from the food pantry on a bi-weekly scheduled thanks to the eight loyal volunteers working 50 hours a month.
Paralleling the Samaritans, The Gift for Kids branch of the Samaritan organization began around the same time, 1986. A program depends on a community of good Samaritans to bring the Christmas spirit to kids 13 years and under in the Conneaut School district -still in operation and still growing. This year gift sponsors and 30 volunteers made it possible for 260 children to receive the spirit of Christmas under their tree.
The Samaritans of Conneaut Lake Inc. served more clients this past year with more money, incurred over $10,000.00 in operating expenses and ended the fiscal year with almost exactly the same amount started with. God does provide.
A reason to celebrate? WE think so! Happy 30th Sam! Come help us celebrate the organization and the dedicated community of volunteers of the last 30 years on JUNE 9th. Bring your food, clothing and household donations, enjoy a cupcake & beverage and shop our specially priced Holy Ground Thrift Store items. Your bargain purchase continues to help your neighbor. Help your neighbor . . . Shop Samaritans.
• JUNE 9th, 2012
• 9:30 to Noon
• Holy Ground Thrift Store located behind Our Lady Queen of America’s Church on Rt 285 & 6.