By Linda Dillman
Seventeen years ago, a community partnership in Hamilton Township stepped up to help out needy families and, while the group itself dissolved a few years later, four core members keep the program going because need never goes away.
Starting out small in 2003 while the group learned the limits on what it could do, Hamilton Local Schools Public Relations Director Vince Payne said approximately a dozen families who received clothes, gifts, and staple food items the first year.
“The program began by supporting 10-12 families and grew to annually support 60-65 families, totaling nearly 300 children,” said Payne. “The program was initially based at the Hoover Y Park when we had less than 30 families served. When the program grew to more than 30 families, we moved to what used to be Grace Ministries Church on Rathmell Road. While the program was based there, it grew to the 60-65 families we now support annually.”
Organizations participating in the 2020 Holiday Help program are Hamilton Local Schools faculty and staff, LeaveAMark Church, Obetz Church of the Nazarene, Church on Como, Kraft Distribution Center, Hamilton Township Fire Department, Obetz Dairy Queen, and Kelly’s Market.
Payne said there is a need in most communities for programs like Holiday Help that support families during the holidays and even year-round. There are a variety of reasons that the need for help arises.
“We are seeing more families needing support due to unemployment caused by the pandemic,” said Payne. “They are trying to work their limited resources to keep their homes, keep their heat on, and keep their families fed. We are doing what we can, with the resources we have, to help as many families in our community as possible. Programs like this help take the stress off of families who may be trying to decide between paying bills or providing their children something for the holiday. Programs like this bring communities together to lift up those who need a boost. Programs like this can provide hope to those who may lose that feeling around the holidays. Our program is here to help our community as much as our resources will allow.”
People annually provide new toys, donate funds, or “adopt” an individual or family and go shopping for their items. Payne said it is up to the person or organization on what they want to do and Holiday Help organizers are always ready to work with those who want to donate their time or resources.
School guidance counselors identify families and reach out to offer the program’s support. Holiday Help workers will distribute items to families on Dec. 17, so they have time to prepare for the holiday.
“We can always use support through adoption or donation, and we want to give thanks to all those who make this program possible each year,” said Payne.
For information on the Holiday Help program, contact Deb Dunn or Sandy Goldbach at LeaveAMark Church – 614-491-5262. The cut-off date to bring items to the church is Dec.15.