More than 1,300 households in Fulton County who are in a tough financial situation have been invited to participate in the annual Fulton County Christmas Cheer program. Much of the behind-the-scenes work has begun and the visible work will soon become apparent.
Hundreds of volunteers will gather at the fairgrounds the week of December 7 – 10 to sort goods, stock the shelves, and then assist the pre-registered shoppers who come to select what their families would most enjoy. Families shop in categories of canned goods, mixes, puddings, pastas, cereals, personal hygiene items, detergents, blankets, hats and mittens. Families with children also have points to shop the bountiful shelves of new toys.
“It’s one of my favorite times of the year,” says Cecily Rohrs of rural Archbold, who has chaired the program for the last 31 years. “I love the mix of county folks who choose to come to the fairgrounds that week. The volunteers are students, parents, retirees, and those who come for assistance are families who struggle from all age groups as well. It’s a time when we see and get to visit with one another.”
The program is running earlier than Rohrs would like. “Some county schools are now giving exams before Christmas and the students who help us with the heavy lifting need to be in the classroom,” she explained, “so we had to move the program up this year.”
Many schools, churches, civic and business groups are involved in the annual effort. Some collect goods to be sorted and stocked. Others give money so the organizers can buy within the county in case lots at better prices. Some do a combination of things, including coming to volunteer at the fairgrounds.
Donations can be sent to Christmas Cheer, 16449 St. Rt. 2, Wauseon, OH 43567. For answers to how you could be helpful, contact the phone coordinator at 419-572-9907.
Although Christmas Cheer was a seasonal outreach for several decades, now the non-profit program operates year round. Christmas Cheer accepts donations of used vehicles in good working condition and passes them along to families without reliable transportation. Another arm of Cheer is the furniture program, whose volunteers pick up appliances and furniture with life still left in them and pass them on to families who have requested assistance. Many area social agencies help with the coordination and referrals.
“My husband Jerry is the furniture guy,” Cecily said, “and I am more the seasonal program and transportation.” It’s an honor for us to be the link between those in need and those who are willing to give. “