By Rita Rolfe
Overall Chair, Christmas Baskets Program
Once again, the Youngstown/Town of Porter and Lewiston communities hit it out of the park by providing Christmas gifts of toys, clothing and food for 65 families, including 123 children, living in our community. The Christmas Basket Program was a win-win for the recipients and the donors.
The generosity of our community is outstanding! So many individuals and organizations signed on to this winning team.
First, thanks to members of our steering committee: Laura Andrus, Diane and Mike Blenk, Janet Brooks, Joyce Casper, Charlotte Clark, Sue DeJoseph, Peggy Hanson, Sue Mackey, Barbara Malinowski, Gary and Kate Myers, Carol Reinbird, Beverly Roach, me and John Rolfe and Colleen Johnson Summerville for flawlessly executing the game plan.
Donations of all sorts came from over 350 community-minded individuals and organizations. Members of the Youngstown Lions Club donated money, gift cards for teens, along with toys and clothing. The Youngstown Yacht Club provided a very generous monetary donation, as well as the fixings for 18 Thanksgiving dinners.
Children at St. Peter’s School in Lewiston provided gifts, as did the participants at the Lewiston-Porter Middle School and Lewiston-Porter Elementary Retired Teachers and Staff. Members of the First Presbyterian Church and parishioners of St. Bernard’s worship site provided gifts through their angel tree programs. The Altar and Rosary Society of St. Bernard’s and the First Presbyterian Church deacons contributed money for gifts. Members of St. John’s Episcopal Church provided a very generous donation for the purchase of Tops gift cards, as did the members of the Youngstown Study Club, St. John Lutheran Church and the Lewiston Lions Club.
The Scouts, leaders and parents of Youngstown’s Boy Scout Troop 829 once again stepped up to the plate with their nonperishable food drive. Businesses supported the food drive, too, by collecting food or giving donations. Thanks to the Youngstown Diner, Everything Youngstown, Victoria’s Hair Care, Anchor Wines and Spirits, Ray’s Tavern, Bandanas, Hardened Art Tattoo, Main Street Pizza, Sister and Brother Shop, and the Ontario House “Stone Jug.”
DiMino’s Lewiston Tops very generously donated a $10 gift card for each family. In addition to this, over $7,560 worth of Tops gift cards were purchased from generous donations to be distributed to recipients. More cards from individual donors were also provided.
Thank you to the Town of Porter for their assistance. Thanks to the Village of Youngstown, Mayor Rob Reisman, the village supervisors and the great village office staff, we were able to set up in the gym of the Youngstown Red Brick Municipal Building. Volunteer “Angel” callers had previously contacted 65 “Angels” who purchased gifts for the children’s wish lists.
Gifts came through the door in great numbers. Soon the tables were filled. Volunteer shoppers, sorters and wrappers packaged gifts and nonperishable food for delivery by our volunteer drivers. Cars were loaded with the assistance of the Wilson basketball team and U.S. Coast Guard Niagara, as well as many other volunteers.
We have received several notes of gratitude from our recipients. One suggested we were “undercover angels.” Isn’t that an appropriate name for our hard-working community team?
A big thank you to all of you “undercover angels.”
Janet Brooks coordinated all of the volunteer “Angels” who purchased clothing and toys on needy children’s wish lists, as well as all of the volunteers who wrapped all of the children’s presents and organized them into bags to be delivered to needy families.
Toys collected at Lew-Port Middle School under the direction of Mrs. Tina Oddy.
Lots of volunteers helped pack up vehicles and deliver the food and gifts to needy families including, from left: Jeff Jircitano, Maureen Gambino, Youngstown Mayor Rob Reisman, Overall Christmas Baskets Chairperson Rita Rolfe, Patrick Donohue from Coast Guard Niagara, Colleen Johnson Summerville (coordinator for food and gifts delivery), and Youngstown Police Chief Joseph Paul.
Coach Brett Sipped brought his Wilson basketball team to help pack up vehicles with food boxes and gifts for needy families.