Meet the Christmas angels I’ve come to rely on over the years who unselfishly give their time and talents fashioning kid-friendly fleece blankets, mittens, gloves, scarves and hats for children who will be passengers on Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Polar Express on Dec. 7.
While retired Akron Police Sgt. Tom Dye rounds up donors to pick up the tab to fill two train cars that will transport the children and their families to the North Pole and back, these special elves add a huge ribbon to the experience.
Janet Shively of Green coordinates the volunteers. “This program could not survive without these dedicated workers who work tirelessly on making blankets, mittens and scarves for the Polar Express — sick children and children of parents serving our country overseas — and Summit County sheriff’s cars for children in distress,” Shively said, adding that the work on the blankets began in April.
The workers and donors are Ev Wolfe, Wilma Hardman, Mary Stenger, Ellen Dimoff, Cindi Gran, Tracy Dardenne, Pat Janero, People Serving People, John and Marie Ricks, Amelia Casino, Liz McCutchen, Bara Werab, Doris Powell, Jan Warner, Susan Deevers, Bob and Ann Livingston, Karen Campbell, Theresa Stephans, Jane Fulton, Stigmata of St. Francis, Dotty Cottrell, Bruce and Susan Coe, Moms Club of Stow and Jo-Ann Fabrics, Sharon Hanchey, Mary Jo Long and Marlene Donaldson.
“Some come from Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, Barberton, Norton, Akron, Fairlawn, Canton and even father north,” Shively noted. “No distance is too far to comfort these children.”
“It is also worth noting that besides us we have Mogadore, Springfield, Medina [police departments] putting our blankets in their patrol cars,” Shively added. “Sure hope it spreads, as abuse and domestic violence are rampant.
“Only by working together and our faithful donors could this happen! I praise God for all of them!”
Likewise, a huge thank-you to Wadsworth’s Jan Householder, founder of Giving Doll Inc., a ministry that provides personalized soft cloth dolls (replicated by scores of volunteers) to children going through difficult times.
Householder and her dedicated posse are again providing dolls to the passengers on two cars of the Polar Express that night. These chronically or critically ill children, and children of military serving in harm’s way, have been pre-selected.
Giving Dolls, since the ministry’s inception six years ago, have been distributed in all 50 states and 28 countries.
Mike Taylor, communications specialist for the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross, is suggesting that as you prepare for your holiday celebrations, “take a moment away from the shopping sprees and sales and share a gift in honor of everyone on your holiday list and ‘give something that means something.’…
“The Red Cross Holiday Giving Catalog offers shoppers who are looking for gift ideas this year to choose from a variety of symbolic gifts such as food and shelter for a disaster victim, phone cards for members of the military, vaccinations for an entire village, and many other gifts. Help where it’s needed most. Hot meals and shelter provide comfort and strength when disaster strikes, and hearing the voice of a loved one deployed will help make being away during the holidays a little more bearable.”
To view the catalog, please go to www.redcross.org/gifts.
A trailer full of food
Major kudos to United Church of Christ congregations responsible for the recent haul of 3,620 pounds of nonperishable food for the Stark County Hunger Task Force to help those in need through the holidays.
The four-week campaign, “Fill a Semi to Feed the Hungry,” collected food at Trinity United Church of Christ, Canal Fulton; St. John’s United Church of Christ, Massillon; Fishers Foods and Grace United Church of Christ, both in Canton.
Special thanks also to volunteers from Ladies Super Fitness on 30th Street Northeast in Canton, who weighed and sorted the food items, which will delivered to task-force facilities in the Community Campus at Goodwill in Canton and distributed to network pantries.
‘Caring Santa’ event
Summit Mall and the Autism Society of Ohio, Greater Akron office, are partnering to host a “Caring Santa” event from 8 to 11 a.m. Dec. 2, dedicated to families with special needs children to provide a more subdued and stress-free environment to visit the Santa Photo Experience.
Summit Mall spokeswoman Kate Miller said Caring Santa has been developed by Simon Property Group, and is guided by AbilityPath.org, a national resource hub for the special-needs community. “Many steps have been taken to reduce sensory triggers, creating a more comforting environment for the children’s magical visit with Santa,” Miller said. That includes turning off in-mall music and dimming the lights, and providing activities and stories geared to special-needs children during the “wait” period.
Presenting sponsors include ABC Family, Visit Florida, Gymboree and ScentSicles. The Autism Society will provide trained elves and Earth Fare will provide breakfast.
Open house planned
Calling all former students of retired Akron Public Schools physical education, biology and health teacher Tula Serves, 88, a resident of Bath Manor.
Former Buchtel High School student and Bath Manor volunteer Mary Cockill and Buchtel classmate Nancy (Sparhawk) Jackson are hosting an open house with refreshments to honor Serves from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at Bath Manor, 2330 Smith Road, Akron. Please RSVP to 330-867-1720 or 330-864-1715.
Serves served as Ms. Ohio Senior America 2010 and competed in the Ms. Senior America Pageant, billed as “the world’s first and foremost pageant to emphasize and give honor to women who have reached the Age of Elegance.” She captured sports awards including a foul-shooting contest while a senior at the University of Akron, where she was captain of the women’s independent basketball team and was on the women’s volleyball team. She also won awards for golfing, swimming and bowling.
Active in the Greek community, Serves taught actress Melina Kanakaredes, an Akron native. Longtime friend Pauline Adams also is asking former students to send encouragement cards to Serves at Bath Manor.
Drop off toys
Calling patriots of the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots: Quaker Steak and Lube, 6073 Dressler Road, NW, Jackson Township, is serving as an official drop-off location for toys this year.
The restaurant also is hosting a dine-to-donate event from 4 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3 with funds going to buy more toys.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.