Holiday spirit alive

NOTHING EMPHASIZES the Christmas spirit like giving to others who may not otherwise have very much.

The St. Clairsville Council of Churches Food Pantry Christmas Project gives volunteers plenty of opportunities to express their love and show how much caring there is in the St. Clairsville area even in these uncertain times.

The Food Pantry Christmas Project benefits those living in the St. Clairsville-Richland School District.

Volunteers from East Richland Evangelical Friends, Calvary Presbyterian, Christ The King Lutheran, First Christian, First Presbyterian, St. Mary’s, St. Stanislaus, St. Joseph’s and the Thoburn United Methodist churches, the Sunrise Rotary Club and students and staff from New Covenant Academy helped to prepare and distribute gifts and food this year.

“All responses that we heard this year were very positive and deeply appreciated,” said Nancy Gillogly, one of the coordinators of the Christmas project. “It was again a great success, thanks to all those who contributed for this year’s Christmas project.

“This year, 152 families with 151 children, under the age of 18, were given an opportunity to register at the November food distribution days at the Food Pantry in November. With the many donations this year, the Food Pantry was able to share some baby-related items with the Miracle of Life Support Group and some of the wooden toys to Project Manna for the Union Local School District.”

The Food Pantry Christmas Project was held at the Food Pantry location and also at the Calvary church.

Recipients were invited to attend and participate in the church services. The Rev. Anthony R. Batt, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in St. Clairsville, spoke about Jesus and the many blessings He gives people each day, even when they’re facing hard times, and the Rev. James MacNealy, a member of East Richland Evangelical Friends Church, talked about the feelings about going home for Christmas, both now and when going “home” with Jesus, Gillogly said.

Those attending sang Christmas carols. Joyce Carson and Jane Powell were accompanists.

After the service, each family was given a new blanket, pillow, towel and wash cloths.

Their next stop was at the children’s table for underwear, gloves and mittens, hats and caps, socks, slippers, baby outfits, blankets and similar items, and the next table included personal care items such as combs, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, facial tissues, dish and face soap, body lotion, shaving cream, razor blades, deodorant, cosmetics and cosmetics bags.

“Food selections that are not normally included in their monthly food donations were available to choose from,” Gillogly said. Men’s, women’s and children’s coats were available, many brand-new ones.

The toy table, always a much-anticipated stop for the young ones, included large and small stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons, dolls, school supplies (notebooks, folders, erasers, pencils, and binders), books, games, crafts, Beanie Babies, Bratz and Barbies, balls, cars, tea sets, jump rope, baby toys, grab bags and other types of toys.

Also available was a selection of Christmas decorations, small electric appliances, books, cards, glassware and tableware.

Christmas gifts were made available for each child registered from the various churches in the St. Clairsville-Richland School District.

One special batch of toys were those wooden ones made by the inmates at the Belmont Correctional Institution, and the toy project at the prison began in 1995. All the “prison” toys are made from scrap materials from the maintenance department and materials were donated from staff members. Mike Cenkus and Joe Mayberry from BCI delivered some 344 toys this year.

The toys include fire trucks, monster trucks, antique and small cars, large and small tank trucks, trains, puzzles, crayon holders, block wagons, banks, rocking horses, rocking chairs, airplanes, helicopters, bulldozers, road graders, toolboxes with tools, stackable clown blocks and cradles and more.

Last stop was the Food Pantry, and large boxes of food items made possible by donations from churches, individuals, Boy Scouts, schools and others were available.

Coordinators Ken Williams and Gillogly said that in November, the St. Clairsville High School Rotary Interact collected canned goods and other items at the “Holidays on the Hilltop” Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting activities in St. Clairsville. The Sunshine Rotary Club, in conjunction with the area grocery stores and Kathy Osovich from Harvey Goodman Realtors, held their “Pack the Truck” project in November and this year, it was held in memory of Rotarian Thomas Dowler.

The St. Clairsville Food Pantry, started in 1983 to help needy persons living in the St. Clairsville-Richland School District, operates entirely on donations from churches, businesses, organizations, schools and individuals.

“It would not be available for those in need throughout the year or the Christmas Project without the generosity of this community,” said Gillogly.

For further information, contact Ken Williams, (740) 695-1734.