Teen continues Christmas tradition at House to Home in Parkersburg

Photo by Evan Bevins Skylar Bogan, right, carries shoeboxes filled with items like snacks, gloves and tissues into House to Home on Eighth Street in Parkersburg on Friday.

PARKERSBURG — The weather outside was frightful, but the atmosphere inside House to Home was delightful as the day shelter held its annual Christmas luncheon and received gifts from a longtime supporter.

Wirt County High School alumna Skylar Bogan delivered 100 shoeboxes filled with supplies for the homeless to the Eighth Street facility for the ninth year in a row. She began the Yuletide tradition when she was 10 and learned about homelessness in the area after seeing tents set up under the Fifth Street Bridge.

Bogan started college this fall at West Liberty University but was determined to keep her efforts going.

“A lot of people are still supportive even though I’m in college,” Bogan said. “Actually, they might be more supportive.

“This wouldn’t be possible without donations, and I want to thank the people who continue to donate to me faithfully,” she said.

Photo by Evan Bevins Skylar Bogan, left, gives a shoebox filled with snacks and supplies to help folks keep warm to House to Home volunteer and client Lee Pippin on Friday during the day shelter’s annual Christmas meal. Now a freshman at West Liberty University, Bogan has collected donations and delivered shoeboxes to the day shelter since she was 10 years old.

That includes her teammates on the Hilltopper softball team, as well as employees at Camden Clark Medical Center and other regular contributors over the years. This year she received more cash donations than items, allowing her to change the contents of the boxes somewhat.

Bogan and the friends and family who help pack the boxes doubled up the sweet and salty snacks, putting two in each box instead of one. In addition to the usual pair of socks, gloves, toboggan, drink and peanut butter and jelly sandwich, they included hand warmers, tissues and chapstick.

“Right now I have a little bit of a cold, and I would hate to be out here with no chapstick or tissues or anything,” Bogan said.

She was also able to leave additional snacks and items at House to Home for future use, including travel-size items like shampoo, soap and lotion a donor collected from hotels.

Bogan called the visit to House to Home “the big bang” of her holiday season.

Photo by Evan Bevins House to Home client/volunteer Brian Anderson helps bring in shoeboxes donated to the clients of the day shelter by West Liberty University freshman Skylar Bogan.

“This is my Christmas Day, really,” she said. “There’s really no greater feeling than doing good, what you think is right.”

House to Home Director of Operations Jessy Towner said clients look forward to the day as well, and not just because of the items in the box.

“Somebody took the time out of their day to make it a point to say, ‘I was thinking of you,'” she said. “She’s just been an absolute angel, literally.”

Clients of House to Home, most of whom also work as volunteers to help out at the day shelter, assisted Bogan and her friends and family in bringing the boxes inside in the cold and rain before looking through their contents.

“I think it’s great,” House to Home client Curtis Cochran said. “A lot of usable stuff in it.”

Photo by Evan Bevins Planet Fitness Assistant Manager Audrey Sweeney, left, hands a blanket to House to Home client/volunteer Casey Pettry on Friday. Planet Fitness members donated nearly 300 blankets, which were delivered to the day shelter Friday during its annual Christmas meal.

Bogan was joined in the gift giving by representatives of Planet Fitness in south Parkersburg, who delivered nearly 300 blankets donated by their members.

“We just put a sign up that said ‘help us,’ and we collected blankets over the last two weeks,” said Planet Fitness General Manager Melissa Lynch. “Our members are awesome.”

Lynch got the idea from House to Home board member Kim Wilson, who exercises at Planet Fitness.

“I think it’s amazing,” Wilson said. “They just didn’t have to do it. We love it that they did.”

Towner said members of the community allow House to Home to provide its services — including shelter, showers, laundry facilities, food, clothing and computer access — to people who are homeless or economically disadvantaged.

Photo by Evan Bevins House to Home client/volunteer Curtis Cochran looks through a shoebox given to him by West Liberty University freshman Skylar Bogan on Friday at the day shelter.

“I can’t say thank you enough to our community,” she said. “They keep our doors open. They keep our friends and family fed and warm.”

Also during Friday’s luncheon, winners of a raffle to raise money for House to Home were drawn. The winners were Deanna Fox, Susie Shrader and Joyce Tennant.