Mike Meadows, his brother Bill, friend Tom Judson and others never dreamed that a Thanksgiving morning backyard football game — organized 23 years ago in Medina and now known as the Meadows Turkey Bowl — would have morphed into what it is today, an incredible life-changer for hundreds in the community.
It is a huge lifeline for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which is dedicated to assisting the needy regardless of their faith. For the past eight years the society has been the beneficiary of this highly organized event which has mushroomed over the years, drawing hundreds of onlookers and donors.
This year’s event gathered a record $126,000, so much more than Meadows and company could have ever anticipated. Meadows said he and his volunteers chose St. Vincent de Paul “because of its screening and vetting process and they really do a great job in distributing to those most in need.”
“There’s an incredible story here,” Meadows continued. “These are a bunch of blue-collar guys raising this money. And they work really hard at it … We just give thanks to all of the players on the four teams in the two games that funnel into a hard-fought competitive [championship] game … Erin Cureton, who has been captain of four of the five past championship teams, ended up getting beaten by the team captained by Keith Hughes.”
The group has just rolled out its inaugural Special Olympics Bowl, the day after turkey day. “We expect it to get bigger and bigger too,” an enthusiastic Meadows said.
Kids for the Cure
Big, beautiful bouquets to the 130 students and faculty at Greater Summit County Early Learning Center in Springfield Township who recently walked as a school family to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer. “Kids for the Cure” raised nearly $1,000 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
The two third-grade student leaders were Giavona Fuline and Meriah Crihfield, whose family members have had personal experience with breast cancer.
Giavona took an extra step by baking more than 100 pink cupcakes to serve to participants.
Cards for heroes
The American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes are again partnering for a patriotic holiday venture they hope the public will embrace: Holiday Mail for Heroes.
“Anyone can participate by signing holiday cards which will be sent to members of the U.S. military, veterans and their families,” writes Mike Taylor, communications specialist, Northeast Ohio Region American Red Cross (that’s Summit and Portage counties).
“For the sixth year in a row, the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes are giving everyone an opportunity to let the military know their service is appreciated, especially during the holiday season …
“Two card signing rallies are planned, for Tuesday between 2 and 5 p.m.; and again on Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m.”
The Red Cross is providing the cards. Just come to the Red Cross chapter at 501 W. Market St., Akron (across from the Tangier).
Unable to attend? You can send cards to: Holiday Mail for Heroes, P.O. Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456. Cards, not letters, please, postmarked no later than Dec. 7. Adequate postage a must. Remember to use generic salutations like “Dear Service Member.” Cards addressed to specific service members cannot be delivered through this program.
Pregnancy Care of Summit County’s Christmas Auction will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Joseph’s Family Center, 610 W. Exchange St., Akron.
“Have you ever known a baby or a child that is in need of food, clothing or a place to sleep?” is the plea. “At Pregnancy Care of Summit County each day we have families that are put into these situations.”
Tickets are $25. For more information, please visit www.PregnancyCareOnline.org.
Breakfast with Santa
Calling all parents and guardians interested in seeing their children have breakfast with Santa! Hudson’s Restaurant and Catering at 80 N. Main St., Hudson, is hosting a tell-him-what-you-want-for-Christmas and photo session from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 1.
All proceeds go to Blessings in a Backpack, a national organization designed to feed children who qualify for federal free meals at school but who may not have food to eat on the weekends. “Every Friday students receive their bags with food staples that require little to no preparation,” writes Kendra Altomare, spokeswoman for the restaurant. “They return their bags on Monday ready to learn … This ministry will sponsor children at [Akron’s] Helen Arnold Community Learning Center. It takes $80 to feed one child for a year!”
The Forchione family is adding a much-needed outreach to its traditional Christmas light show, “Christmas on Crownpoint,” at 3450 Crown Point St. NW, Perry Township (near Massillon). They are collecting nonperishable food items for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and cash donations for the local Wishes Can Happen, which puts critically sick children first by granting their wishes.
“Each year our family has designed a show honoring the magic of Disney and all that making wishes is made of — with that in mind, this year we will be honoring many of the children who have made a trip to Disney their own wish,” wrote Laura Forchione.
“Being able to make one child’s wish come true costs an average of $4,710. Our goal is to make as many wishes happen as we can this year!
“Each year we create a bigger and better show by adding thousands of lights and elements that families and folks in the surrounding communities can come and watch from the comfort of their warm vehicles all holiday season long!”
Bravo to the USS Foundation, which is returning to Canton’s Belden Elementary School with a special delivery of 100 bikes. “This return trip was deemed necessary to offer the bikes to children that didn’t receive one on the previous visit,” said Samantha Durbin, marketing coordinator with Universal Surveillance Systems.
“The families of this school have been hit particularly hard by the current recession, with high unemployment rates and many struggling financially for basic necessities … These bicycle donations will show how much others care and want to give them a better chance.”
Yet another opportunity to help 1988 Copley High School graduate Paul Lemire is coming Thursday, Dec. 6 and 13.
Metropolis Popcorn at 2164 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls, will donate 20 percent of its sales those days (1 to 6 p.m.) to Paul, who is battling Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org