PARKERSBURG - Local volunteers with the charitable organization AMBUCS donated their time to wrap Christmas presents Tuesday evening.
Cindy Deem, vice president of Chapter 171 in Parkersburg, said five local families - including 11 children - were adopted by the local AMBUCS organization this year. A Secret Santa gift wrap session took place at Worthington Golf Club on Tuesday night following a meal provided by members.
The group was chartered locally in March 1970 and has recently seen a steady decline in membership, according to club officials. The event on Tuesday brought in about 25 volunteers, enough to wrap presents and spread holiday cheer.
Photo by Mandi Cardosi
Sherry Hamilton, left, and Eric Little, right, help each other wrap gifts to give to local children as a Secret Santa.
"We always try to do something to give back to the community," said member and volunteer Eric Little.
AMBUCS, open to men and women 21 years of age and older, holds fundraisers for the community and especially to help special needs children. The group also works with the Salvation Army Red Kettles at Christmas, volunteers at Artsbridge's Very Spectacular Arts Festival, sponsors a Halloween party for special needs children and contributes to a national AMBUCS program that provides scholarships for physical therapy patients.
"We do things like pick up trash, the Special Olympics, handicapped ramps," Deem said of the Parkersburg chapter.
During the holiday season, Deem said the group receives a list from families and is able to accommodate the children's needs. The organization also donates gift cards to the families to help them with providing a Christmas meal for their loved ones.
AMBUCS meets on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Colombo's Restaurant on Seventh Street in Parkersburg. The group provides a guest speaker for any members of the community interested in listening or volunteering. Prospective members to the group can contact Deem at 304-428-1960.
"It's a small group because young kids aren't joining," she said. "My dad was a member, back then there was 30 or 40 people; there's only 20 people now."
Little said the group is able to give back about 99 percent of the revenue it receives from events and fundraisers.
"We are here to help our community and give back to people who don't have (a lot)," said member Addie Davis. "We're fortunate enough to have a little so we just want to share."