A LOAD OF GOOD WILL … Stryker community members had fun delivering loads of gifts, food, and gift cards to families in need in their community for Christmas 2020, ending the year with a feeling of gratitude for all that had been given. (PHOTO PROVIDED)
By: Rebecca Miller
The spirit of giving has been a part of the Christmas season for as long as any who are reading this article can remember. It seems to be a time of year when the needs of others can be seen and many want to help. In 2017, in the small Northwest Ohio town of Stryker, a resident, who owned a business there at the time, was in conversation with a friend.
The friend stated that she was helping a local family for Christmas in memory of her son who had passed away. The business owner asked if she could jump on board to help, as well as checking to see if other members of the community would like to do so.
That year they helped two families, with news of how to help being passed through the Stryker FaceBook page, “What’s Happening in Stryker.” Toys for Tots got involved, as well as The Bed Brigade in Bryan who made a bed for one of the families. People gave money, time for gift wrapping, nonperishable foods, toys for the children, clothing as needed and so much more.
Four Christmases have come and gone since that conversation, and the ball is rolling! Throughout the year, people involved keep their ears open to hear of anyone in need who has a Stryker address, as this has been the focus of the community effort.
In 2018, one family and one single person were helped, three families were assisted in 2019, and for 2020 it exploded, with a total of seven families and three singles being helped. There were around twenty children who were in those families and all were blessed with their needs and wants being met.
The organizer shared, “The recipients have all been overjoyed and overwhelmed by everything that was given, which includes gifts, food, gift cards for local businesses and for larger chain stores.”
Fundraisers have started popping up during the year to help make it even bigger, with a Taco Meal at the Shelter House, a percentage of proceeds on specific days at local businesses, an online auction, and opportunities to give monetarily being some of the ways that everything is gathered.
Businesses outside of Stryker such as ConAgra have also made donations and individuals continue to surprise the leader of the “Stryker Adopt a Christmas Family” effort, with some of the checks being as large as $400 and $1200 in 2020.
Whether the donation is one can of food or a large amount of money, and everything in between, it is all from a giving heart and is appreciated.
The opportunity remains anonymous for both givers and receivers, with confidentiality being important. The desire of the person who heads it up is for “love and caring to be shown as it is so needed. I try to keep this focused on what the Lord does and how He works.”
“It’s a blessing to be able to bring so many together! Those people who are close knit in this know who they are, and those who are getting involved are all pouring out love and effort into making this happen. It is not about us. Someone has to head it up, so I do that at this point.”
“Yes we do the footwork, but I am just being the hands and feet of our Lord, getting the community involved. We are spreading out the opportunity, to bless others, to all who want to help. This year you could tell the Lord was in it all, because every time there was an issue it would work out in our favor. It was a great experience.”
There will be more fundraisers held this year as they work towards Christmas 2021. Watch for those on “What’s Happening in Stryker.” Already the donations are starting to come in, as in December, a few days after Christmas 2020, customers at Dollar General purchased trees that were selling at 50% off and donated them to the effort for 21.
Someone else has also donated three trees that she had at home. If a tree is needed in December 21, they are ready! Also, people who were recipients are saying that they want to help out and get on the giving end of this great Community effort that blessed them so much.
Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org