LAKEMORE The Santa event was kept somewhat "under wraps," from the children of Lakemore as they showed their surprise after receiving gifts from Santa and Mrs. Claus at the first Share a Christmas held by the Lakemore Police Department.
It was something to do for the kids of the village explained Gwen Stafford Erskine of the police department. The department has participated in the Shop With A Cop program for many years and believes it is a wonderful program, but decided to try something different this year that could possibly add to the holidays for more children.
Erskin said they wanted to give specifically to the children and possibly reach more children in Lakemore.
Share a Christmas was held Dec. 9 and was a big hit with children, families, police officers and the many volunteers that helped to do so. It was held at the Spring Lake Roller Rink and was a fun time for approximately 70 children. Those children also brought parents to join in the fun. It all began with the opportunity to roller skate and have breakfast. The food was plentiful from pancakes to the healthy stuff like fruit. Volunteers were on hand from the community and schools to help out. Police officers visited with the kids and take a few laps around the rink with them, on skates.
There was excited silence and then cheers of excitement at the rink when Star Wars characters walked in to visit with everyone. They were a tough act to follow, but one that the famous couple from the North Pole had no problem doing.
The Clauses arrived by sleigh and children couldn’t wait to talk to Santa and make their wishes known. However, many of those wishes came true on the spot. Children were called up to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus one by one and were handed gifts, many of which were on their wish list. From bicycles to dolls, there were presents and more presents. Volunteers made a "bucket brigade" line and passed present after present from one to another from the truck outside to an area of the rink that held the festive wrapped Christmas gifts.
How did that all happen? It literally "took a village."
Letters were sent out to parents and they were given instructions to read the letter to the children. The children were to help the parents fill out the form with their needs, wishes and wants and drop it in the special box at the post office that had been decorated by student council members from S.U.P.E.R. Learning Center in Lakemore.
Once the letters were returned, elves began shopping and wrapping the presents. Erskine said the outpouring in the village for the children was amazing.
"It is a very positive event for the Village of Lakemore and the residents have been super excited," she said.
The event and what it entailed was kept as a secret for quite some time from the children and the fact that they were going to receive gifts.
Village teenagers gathered a few days before the event and made chocolate candy for the younger kids and families to enjoy at the event. Villagers donated items for the chocolate frenzy. Erskine said that anything that could be thought of to be dipped in chocolate was.
"It was a way to get the teenagers involved," she said.
Akron Children’s Hospital and Lakemore families provided games and prizes for the children and Ho Haromano from Springfield High School made crafts with the kids. S.U.P.E.R. Learning Center did what it called change wars. It was the girls against the boys to see how much they could raise in change to donate to the Share a Christmas program.
Stafford said she cried when they delivered the check. The learning center also helped to wrap gifts.
Lakemore Lions raised money and members volunteered for the event and resident Marty Davies held the Taste of Japan dinner which raised a good amount for the program with 80 people attending the dinner and basket raffle.
Police Chief Ken Ray said the department had so much help from so many to make it happen.
During the event there were door prizes and cotton candy.
"I am proud to be involved with a community like this that cares so much and puts an effort out to help other people," said Lakemore Mayor Rick Justice, adding it made him proud seeing so many people come together. "That bucket brigade, that says a lot. When people team up big things can happen."