By: Charlene Adams
The Village Reporter
This is the first in a series of three articles spotlighting three local groups of people that are dedicated to giving back to their community by helping those in need and not just during the Christmas season but all year long and they do it with the help of many generous people throughout Fulton County. You might have heard the saying “It takes a village”? This statement holds true in the hearts of these fantastic individuals who work tirelessly to make sure people get the help they need. With many families in the area struggling financially for whatever reason possibly via unforeseen circumstances or sudden hardship, help in any form may be the shining light they need to get through tough times. Some of these people are not visible to the naked eye, some are very quiet and reserved maybe too proud to ask for help. People in need come in many forms. These local angels with lots of community support put faith back in to humanity.
This article will spotlight Fulton County Christmas Cheer. This non-profit organization was founded over 31 years ago by Cecily and Jerry Rohrs. It began as a month long campaign to raise funds and purchase goods to supply local families with much needed items during the holiday season and culminates every year at the Junior Fair Building in Wauseon the second week of December where people can pick up their much needed baskets of good cheer. Letters are sent out in English and Spanish for those that pick up for Christmas Cheer. They typically line up the night before distribution as Cecily states “the people that sign up for Christmas Cheer are only looking out for the people they love the best way they know how. Poverty is a vicious cycle.” Now with help from private donations, local business es and wonderful volunteers it has become a year round effort because needs are year round and is approximately one third of what these great people do. Mrs. Rohrs states “People are very generous. There is never a shortage of funds and no government money is used”
They also help working people in need of transportation with good used cars that are donated. Area mechanics help out with maintenance costs and 10 to 12 cars come to Christmas Cheer annually and then matched up with people in the community.
Mr. Jerry Rohrs, Cicely’s husband founded The Fulton County Furniture Ministry also under the Cheer umbrella over 20 years ago. They deliver used furniture and appliances to people who need them. Pettisville Grain donated a truck with a lift on the back for these deliveries and most every year 10,000 miles are put on this truck just on furniture pick up and delivery.
Cecily goes on to explain that their household is in tune with needs in the area. People are very grateful. It’s not always about money it’s about acknowledgment of the struggle and to give people value and purpose. In a city, people who struggle are very visible. It’s harder to be in an area like ours because they are hidden or embarrassed or too proud to ask for help. There are two types of poverty. Generational poverty is exactly that generational. These types of people have struggled all their lives, they are open about needing help, they are a community of their own. Situational poverty is the result of some unforeseen circumstance that has now caused a hardship that they were not accustomed to. These types of people usually hide and don’t ask for help because they are afraid of being turned away. For Cecily this is all part of the opportunity or vehicle through which someone with means can help make someone’s life brighter. I asked her how she keeps going and she stated “I want to continue what I do because there is always someone around the corner that needs help in some way” She is not in this for the short term she is in it for the long haul and has built up a lot of positive relationships over the years. She states that “men and women in Small town USA are holding their heads up high because they now have value and know that someone cares” This is why Fulton County Christmas Cheer has been around for over 30 years to give people value and purpose. “There are no deadlines when serving one another. In a sense we are on call. Who will come? Who will help? Who will do what needs to be done when it needs done? Service is a 24/7 job. We need to do what we can. Always be on the lookout, make someone else s burden a little lighter. We do it well but we need to do it better.”
They want to bridge the gap of understanding and opportunity. Life without enough money is a wobbly journey. They want to communicate and tell their story to make people aware of needs of people in our community. People are truly very generous and willing to give in Fulton County they just need to be made aware.
If you or someone you know is in need of help in some way or have encountered unforeseen circumstances please email Cecily Rohrs at Cecily@rtecexpress.net
Charlene may be reached at