SPRINGFIELD TWP. The Springfield Cares organization of Springfield Township and the village of Lakemore has been caring for those in the communities since its beginnings in 2006.

It is an organization made up of volunteers who give their time to sort, package and pass out boxes after boxes of food, toys, clothing and other items to help those that need some Christmas support.

Residents and businesses of the communities adopt families, give donations of money or gift cards and help in other ways to make Christmas brighter.

Springfield Cares President Nancy Rodrigues said it is something they couldn’t do without the tremendous support they receive from the community.

“We had really good community support this year,” she said.

The support was not only shown through individuals, businesses, schools, churches and organizations but through the police and fire departments of both communities.

The Fill-A-Cruiser program this year was great. Both the village of Lakemore and Springfield Township Police Department’s set up their “Help Wanted” signs. Lakemore Police and fire set up at Dollar General on Canton Road and JC Penny at Lakemore Plaza and Springfield Police were at Wal-Mart on Arlington Road. Both departments filled their cruisers with toys, clothing, canned goods and collected monetary donations for Springfield Cares. Besides filling the cruisers with items, the two departments together raised more than $6,500. The officers volunteered their time to stand in the cold and collect the items and money. The Springfield Fire Department hold a pancake breakfast in November for the community and the cost is two non-perishable food items for each meal. The food items are donated to Springfield Cares.

Springfield Cares helped at least 60 families this year. Rodrigues said all the Springfield Schools hold food drives and the Young Elementary Parent Group also held a toy and clothing drive.

“A lot of the school staff members donated gift cards and adopted families,” she said.

Local churches adopted families and gave monetary donations so the volunteers could shop for the families to purchase items that would fulfill the wishes of the children.

Springfield Cares Vice President Keri Franks said one of the classrooms at Schrop Intermediate School receives “school dollars” for good grades and behavior. Usually, they use the money to purchase donated items from an auction. The students used their earned money to adopt a family for the Springfield Cares this year. Franks brought in items needed for the family and they were auctioned off to and paid for by the “school dollars” earned by the children. Franks said it allowed for the students to reach out and help other kids through the auction instead of buying for themselves.

Local churches participate in a variety of ways with Nativity of Our Lord Church and Springfield Baptist adopting families. Rodrigues said many community members have also adopted families for Christmas.

Springfield Assembly of God donates in a variety of ways and gives Springfield Cares a home to sort and store items for the Christmas season.

Springfield Fellowship Church had a meeting with a variety of churches and took up a collection for the Cares program.

Rodrigues and Franks said they want to thank all of those that give in so many ways to help fill the need in the community, including residents, businesses, churches, organizations and the schools. They thanked the ladies of the Springfield Township Women’s Club who donate every year to help with caring for the families, T’s N Things, Sawyerwood United Methodist Church and Clearview United Methodist, both donated throughout the year to support the helping hands of Springfield Cares. They also said Wayside held a matching fundraiser.

"The National Honor Society students have worked hard helping us through the process of gathering and sorting items. They have done a great job,” Rodrigues said.

One thing volunteers, those donating or helping in any way have learned is that It truly does take a village and township working hand in hand to raise a child.