Fill-A-Cruiser events held by the Village of Lakemore and Springfield Township police departments will help to make the holidays a little brighter for about 60 Lakemore and Springfield families in need of a little help at Christmas.

The Lakemore police officers and volunteers filled their cruisers at the Lakemore Plaza’s JC Penny’s store and the Dollar General store on Canton Road. The Springfield department returned to the Wal-Mart store on Arlington Road to fill their cruisers. The police departments collected toys, clothing, food items and money to help the Springfield Cares organization help others.

Springfield Cares President Nancy Rodrigues said the Fill-A-Cruisers were hugely successful collecting tons of toys, food, clothing and cash donations.

"This was probably the most toys we have had donated with both communities pulling together to help support Springfield Cares," she said.

Rodrigues added that she was so happy that the departments helped to support the program because Springfield Cares supports both communities, "It is all one community to us."

Throughout the year, Springfield Cares, with the support of its approximately 15 members, volunteer helpers and the Lakemore and Springfield communities, has provided more than 500 backpacks for students going back to school; began the Spartan Snack Pack program; and will provide food, clothing, toys and support to area families for Christmas. Each family at Christmas will also receive a ham for the Christmas holidays. Every child receives gifts and the parents are given the tape, wrapping paper and gift tags needed to wrap the presents for their children. Churches and community members adopt families through Cares to help out. No names are disclosed to those purchasing items.

Rodrigues said the Springfield Cares program has been in existence since 2006. She said the name was created because it serves those in the Springfield Local School District, which includes families living in the village and the township. 

In addition to the Fill-A Cruiser programs, Springfield Cares holds a food drive at all of the school buildings and receives donations from businesses and community members. This year, Rodrigues and her crew of elves collected the food donations at each school, both police departments and the Springfield Fire Department, which collected canned goods at its pancake breakfast held in November. She said at each stop they filled a truck, an SUV and a car of the donations collected.

Springfield Cares can use donations not only at the holidays, but throughout the year. In August, it holds a Stuff the Bus event to help with filling backpacks for students of Springfield Schools. The new Spartan Snack Pack program is underway which supplies food backpacks for students that would not have enough food over a weekend, with items they can warm up or eat such as macaroni and cheese, soups, protein bars and much more. The goal is to lend a helping hand to children who have parents that work throughout the weekend, or families that are short on funds for food. Children who are chosen for participation in the program take home a snack pack for the weekend.

Food is needed for the Snack Pack program. Needed food items include hearty soups, canned pasta, canned tuna/chicken, applesauce cups, fruit cups, Slim Jims beef jerky, Ramen noodles, peanut butter jars/cups, protein/cereal/granola bars, cereal cups, Mac-n-Cheese, boxed/cups Oatmeal packets, pudding cups, cheese/peanut butter cracker packs, juice boxes/pouches, microwave popcorn, Hamburger and Tuna Helper.

For more information, call Rodrigues at 330-322-8999.

For those that would like to donate to the Snack Pack program, items can be dropped off at any Springfield School's office.