Christmas to be made brighter for a few hundred residents

OSCEOLA COUNTY – Hundreds of Osceola County residents had the Christmas season get a little bit brighter Saturday morning as the annual Gifts for Kids outreach filled shopping bags and placed many, Many, MANY gifts under Christmas trees which might otherwise not have been there.

Gifts for Kids is an annual event hosted by the Mecosta Osceola County Department of Health and Human Services and Love Inc.

This year, as in years past, the gift distribution program was held in the gymnasium of Evart Middle School.

The holiday happening provides registered Osceola County families with an opportunity to ‘shop’ for presents for the holidays. Host organizers partner with area church volunteers, school groups, youth clubs, fraternal and civic organizations and food pantries in putting on the event.

Some 219 families signed up to take part in the program this year reported John Klever, community resource coordinator for DHHS.

“This is about the same number as last year,” noted Klever. “Numbers actually were initially down, but there was a surge in registration toward the deadline.”

Klever was grateful for the large group of volunteers who showed up Saturday morning to facilitate gift and wrapping stations.

“I think we had plenty on the tables to make sure each registered family has a very happy holiday.”

Rev. Dawn Pooley and her team of volunteers from St. Paul Lutheran Church have been taking part in the Gifts for Kids outreach efforts for some 20 years.

She remembers when the gift distribution was held at Eagle Village and then shifted to other locations around the county.

“It is really wonderful that over the many years we still see members of our community pulling together,” she said with a smile.

“It’s such a great thing that this is not just a case of somebody giving a gift or two. Families are able to come in and ‘shop’ – make selections for things that best suit their needs.

“It creates a more dignified outreach to all involved – both on the giving and receiving ends.

“Those taking part have a choice. People can pick out what they need.”

The Gifts for Kids holiday event not only supplied toys and gifts specifically for children and young people, but also offered books, clothing, household goods, and other items for adult clients as well.

Just some of those taking part as volunteers included the folks from St. Paul in Reed City, a youth group from the United Methodist Church in Hersey, an enthusiastic group pf ladies from St. Philip Neri in Reed City, Sacred Heart in Evart, and St. Agnes in Marion, and more …and more … and more.

“These really are good people doing a good thing,” said Klever looking over the gymnasium bustling with activity.