LAKEMORE Those in the village of Lakemore who swear they spotted the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who, Santa or a group of Star Wars characters, they were not hallucinating.
All were attending the third annual Share A Christmas program for children in the village. Never fear, for the village was well protected and the Grinch was in a great mood as he helped with the presents at the event.
Children received gifts and stockings filled with everything from hats and gloves to toothbrushes and toothpaste.
The program is designed to share a little Christmas joy with the children, and once again it was well attended and a huge success. Share A Christmas is run through the Lakemore Police Department. Coordinator Gwen Stafford Erskine said that this year, it reached theitsir fifth-year goal in the just the third year. The plan is for each year to get bigger and better and so far, that has happened beyond expectations. The program is possible through community donations from businesses, residents and organizations.
The department had participated in the Shop With A Cop program for many years and while they believe in the program, the department wanted to try something different that could allow for them to do more and include more children.
Lakemore Council President Rich Cole said it is the most beautiful, fun-filled day for children and families in Lakemore.
The event is held at the Springfield Lake Roller Rink and children and families come early to enjoy a huge breakfast served up by a host of volunteers. Then it was skating for all.
Soon after the Star Wars characters landed, Santa came in with some big Ho, Ho, Ho’s; a smile; and he spent time with the children. A “bucket brigade” was formed with volunteers, officers, Star Wars characters, Cindy Lou and family members to bring in the many presents that filled a trailer. Volunteers helped in many ways from wrapping presents to cooking up the pancakes. As each child was called, Santa spoke with them and gave them their presents and stocking.
“It is a wonderful experience – spectacular,” said Lakemore Police officer Perry Linaburg. “The joy in seeing the kids is heartwarming.”
Erskin said 136 children were invited and 79 were assisted with presents. They had all of the children from first through third grades. Also invited were the children in the fourth through sixth grades who are on financial assistance. It was all private, as they sent letters to families and if they were interested in participating, they were to fill out the paperwork and bring it to the police station.
“All the kids that we were aware of in the village in the first through third grades were invited,” said Erskin.
Throughout the year, tickets are available for the cash raffle which the top prize being $500. The winners this year were Jodi and Dave Tomei, first year volunteers. They donated the $500 back to the program for next year. There was also a 50/50 raffle during the program.
Erskin said they wanted to give specifically to the children and possibly reach more children in the village.
There was silence and then excited cheers at the rink when Star Wars characters walked in to visit with everyone. They were a tough act to follow, but Santa arrived, and the kids couldn’t have been more excited.
Face painting was available to all. It was a great time for all involved.
“So many helped, in so many ways it is impossible to list them all,” Erskin said. “It is because of them that we are able to Share A Christmas. Every bow, ribbon, plate, morsel was donated by the residents.”