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The Arc seeks support for Secret Christmas program

Tina Tanner of Parkersburg, who participated in previous years in the Secret Christmas program sponsored by The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley, gets her gifts from the program. (File Photo)

PARKERSBURG — The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley is looking for community support for its annual Secret Christmas program.

The Arc supports people with intellectual, cognitive or related developmental disabilities. Participants in Secret Christmas are above the age for assistance from other community programs and have a financial need with little or no support from families to cover clothing, grooming, transportation and other social needs.

“As the majority live in special home settings, this is likely to be the only Christmas they receive,” Liz Ford, executive director of the Arc, said. “We strive to make the holidays a little more special for people who don’t have the resources to do it on their own.”

The Arc needs volunteers to help provide Christmas gifts, cookies and household items to adults and teens 13 years and older, said Doug Hess, coordinator of programs and activities for the Arc. Past community donations for the program have supported 250 people get Christmas wishes.

Among participants is John (name changed to protect his privacy), 70. John, who enjoys bluegrass and western movies, has limited resources and family contact, making the holidays difficult and lonely.

Without The Arc Secret Christmas program, there would be nothing under the tree on Christmas morning.

Over the past several years in the program, John has received CDs with his favorite bluegrass music and a collection of movies on DVD. He doesn’t have to worry about hats, gloves or a coat when the cold winter arrives.

John is appreciative of the program and can’t wait to open his gifts.

Last year, individuals, clubs, businesses, organizations and churches contributed money, time, cookies and supplies to bring Christmas cheer to people.

“Every year the need seems to grow. Providing gifts for people who would otherwise go without is the true meaning of Christmas,” Ford said. “We are blessed to live in a community that comes together and creates real Christmas magic for our relatives, neighbors, and friends.”

A person can be sponsored with a $40 donation. The Arc will purchase and wrap the gifts with the assistance of volunteers.

Donors can request a wish list, purchase the gifts and bring them to The Arc office, or encourage a club, church group, office or other organization to be a Secret Christmas sponsor.

“If you are looking for a way to make your holiday season a little more meaningful, join us on December 3 to wrap, laugh, enjoy each other’s company and share the spirit of Christmas. We always have great snacks and Christmas tunes,” Ford said.

Volunteers are needed to bake cookies to be included with the gifts and to help wrap beginning 5 p.m. Dec. 3. Cookies are due at The Arc offices, 1917 Dudley Ave., on Dec. 2 and 3.

To get involved, contact The Arc at 304-422-3151 or go to thearcmov.org to download a sponsorship form.

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