On Friday morning, for the first time in this mild season, we had snow. No, it wasn’t an accumulation of four inches, worthy of building Frosty or sliding down the levee, but it was a promise that the winter holidays are here, even if it might not feel like it.
Also promising a celebration of life, love, and giving, was the accumulation of support at the Scioto County Homeless Shelter, which housed hundreds of gifts that will soon be distributed to families in need.
The toys and gifts came from Southern Ohio Medical Center and BWXT. There were so many bags of toys to be delivered, that the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility donated a truck and driver to ensure they all made it to the shelter in time for Santa to deliver them to the families.
“We had countless gifts,” Maureen Cadogan, director of the homeless shelter, said. “Although one person takes one child, there is often several gifts involved. There were even many bikes coming through here. We were able to make a difference because of the kindness in the community.”
Cadogan explained that many of the children who will receive gifts are from families who have received assistance from the Scioto County Homeless Shelter in the past. She went on to say that these families struggle to pay he bare minimum and can’t choose gifts over making rent.
“These are people we’ve groomed into success. They are spending 100 percent of their income just to stay housed and Christmas isn’t an option for them. It isn’t always bad, though, because when God lays us on someone’s heart, we often receive so much blessing. Because of his ways, and the kindness and generosity of our community, these families will have a Christmas. Instead of frowns and sadness, these children will know someone cares about them. We don’t want a child to not feel wanted or cared about.”
Cadogan said that this is a peak year for assistance, thanks to the generosity of the local businesses that donated. She said that she still had to turn some families away, since the need is always greater than available support. Despite last minute additions, and growing needs, Cadogan said that SOMC and BWXT were flexible with assistance and eager to add another name to their lists of benefactors. They were able to assist nearly 300 children.
Cadogan said that they try to help as many as possible, because she cannot stand to see a child go without Christmas.
“We had one grandfather recently listed, because he inherited three grandchildren,” Cadogan explained. “Before coming to us, he actually sat them down and told them that there isn’t going to be a Christmas. I just knew we couldn’t let this happen. I made a call and they (SOMC) said they would take them. We are truly blessed.”
Members of the Southern Ohio Medical Center staff donated to nearly 180 children.
“The outpouring of generosity displayed by our staff members has been amazing and humbling,” Teresa Bryan, director of SOMC Social Work, Case Management, Patient Relations, and Pastoral Care, said. “It is so inspiring to see how quickly our departments pitch in and rally together to give back to others, and so many children and families in our community will have a brighter Christmas because of their efforts.”
Members of the BWXT staff donated donated to 100 children.
“BWXT employees graciously donated gifts to the Scioto County Homeless Shelter,” Amy Sparks, of BWXT, said. “Through these donations, Christmas joy will be spread to over 100 children in the local Scioto County area.”
Jessika Hall, senior at Clay Local High School, is working with her mother to once again provide for the shelter during the holidays. She recently served the shelter an entire Thanksgiving Dinner. She looks forward to throwing what Cadogan is calling the shelter’s first Christmas Party on December 23. The family plans on making plenty of party food and will be bringing gifts for children. Cadogan complimented Hall on her heart and said that support during this time of the year is often needed more than ever.
“We are letting people know they matter,” Cadogan said, through a smile and tear-filled eyes. “We don’t want anyone feeling as though they aren’t thought of.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.