PARKERSBURG - During the holiday season, a variety of groups, organizations and churches give their time and efforts to make sure local children and families have a positive Christmas.
Two more organizations worked this weekend, lending a hand to help families in need put some presents under the tree on Christmas Day.
At Integrated Community Services of Parkersburg, a local social service organization, the Kids Christmas Shop was open for business on Friday and Saturday. Director Roger Bradley said the shop has donated items for all ages.
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Ethan Collins, right, puts an item in his basket as he is watched by his shopping partner, A.J. Richards, during the East Wood Volunteer Fire Department’s Shop With a Fireman program on Saturday.
"We have things here from newborn to grandma and grandpa," he said. "They can have something for others from them, that way they will also have something under the tree for them."
Bradley said the organization saw a greater need for the shop.
"We had 50 last year," he said. "We began this year by sending out 75 tickets, we sent them out to different organizations and then they made their selections."
Bradley said he posted information about the shop on Facebook and they received calls from people telling them about families in need and it went from there. Volunteers wrapped more than 135 gifts on Friday in preparation for the two-day Christmas Shop program.
"I know we had more than 40 kids on Friday," he said. "We had at least 20 that were not on our list (Saturday), we will more than double what we had last year."
Bradley said he does not think the increase in those seeking help is just from increased publicity.
"There is more need," he said. "There have been a few organizations we sent information to and they had taken all the families they could help."
In a separate holiday assistance program, members of East Wood Volunteer Fire Department held the second round of their Shop With A Fireman program on Saturday.
Kelsey Harbin, with East Wood VFD, said through fund raising efforts they were able to make it possible for 14 students to have $100 gift cards to use at the south Parkersburg Wal-Mart while shopping with fire department members.
Harbin said she got the idea from the Shop With A Cop program, with local police organizations making recent shopping trips in Wood and Washington counties.
"We've seen the Shop With A Cop and I thought why not have a Shop With A Fireman," she said. "It was unprecedented and the others decided it would be a good idea."
Harbin said she went to the principal of Kanawha Elementary School and told him about the program and he referred 14 children to her for it.
"He sent one child from each class to us and we were able to give them $100 gift cards," she said. "They can spend it on candy, toys, clothes - anything they want, either for themselves or for others."
Harbin added the children get to keep any cash left over on the cards. She said the seven girls in the group went shopping on Friday and the seven boys went on Saturday.
Each group met at the school and were picked up and taken to the Patriot Center Wal-Mart for their shopping trips.
"We did this to give back to the community and to show that the volunteer fire department is more than the trucks you see on the way to a fire," she said. "We care about the community and we want to help the children."
One of the shoppers, identified only as Logan, had several items in his cart for himself and his siblings, including an iPod shuffle, an Angry Bids Playdough set, World of Warcraft Legos and an AXE cologne set.
"The AXE is for my brother and the World of Warcraft is for me and my sister and my little sister likes Angry Birds," he said.
When asked if the iPod was for him, he said "Yes."
One parent along on the trip, Amanda Collins, said the Shop With A Fireman was a blessing for her and her son, Ethan.
"I think it's amazing," she said. "We weren't going to be able to get much Christmas for our kids at all. His principal called me and said he had been selected for this and I cried."