Volunteers Kick Into Gear For Project Christmas Cheer

Kenny Ragland
Posted 9/28/21

Bringing food and Christmas to those who need a little help, brought Clinton area church groups together almost 40 years ago, in what is now called Project Christmas Cheer. Susie Wetzel and Mary Jo …

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Volunteers Kick Into Gear For Project Christmas Cheer

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Bringing food and Christmas to those who need a little help, brought Clinton area church groups together almost 40 years ago, in what is now called Project Christmas Cheer. Susie Wetzel and Mary Jo Cable with the United Methodist Church, Fathers Tom Hermès and previous priests with Holy Rosary Parish and many others found a way to pool their fund raising, food donation and building requirements.
“We work with the schools too,” said Wetzel, the gift card coordinator for Christmas Cheer. “They help us with identifying the children’s needs.”
Beginning on September 16, families who want their names added to the donation receiving list can contact the Samaritan Center. “We will take sign-ups through November 16, said food coordinator Kim Daugherty.
Age is not a consideration for qualification. “We help seniors and families without children too,” Daugherty said.
Blankets and bicycles are items people can receive. “The firemen donate the bicycles,” Wetzel said. “We do the blankets.”
Each child can get their own blanket. “We give one for the family and one per child,” Wetzel said.
Contributors include civic clubs, chamber of commerce members, individuals and the schools. “I spoke at the Rotary Club about business contributions,” Daugherty said. “We couldn’t do this without their tremendous support, and that of the entire community.”
Schools lead the way with non-perishable staples.
“They really collect the canned goods for us,” Wetzel said. “Harvesters donates a lot as well.”
“Meat items come in closer to Christmas.
“We give away a lot of hams & turkeys,” said Samaritan Center Director Sheila Barkwell.
The donations are all coordinated out of the Samaritan Center in Clinton.
“This building has a warehouse area as well as a thrift shop,” Barkwell said.
“This center is much better than the various buildings we had in the past,” said Wetzel. “We have enough space for everything now.”
Storage is a necessity, as almost 800 families benefited from the project in 2020.
“We gave out almost 40 tons last year,” 20-year volunteer David Graham said.
Long time project co-chair Mary Jo Cable was very influential. She passed away tragically last year, and her husband Kent still volunteers.
“I so wish I could ask her things,” Daugherty said. “She was someone that cannot be replaced.”
Families wanting to sign up can come to the Samaritan Center before November 16. Project Christmas Cheer sign up hours are daytime 9-12, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, but not on Wednesday’s.
“That’s the day we get our deliveries,” Daugherty said.

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