With the cost of Christmas escalating, a group of Springhill and area residents are coming together to make sure everyone has a Christmas Wish under the tree on Dec. 25.
Every year at this time, a tremendous effort is made to make sure every child has something under the tree on Christmas morning and Christmas for Kids in Amherst and Toys for Tots in Springhill goes a long toward achieving that goal. Christmas Wishes works to ensure older children and adults don’t go without.
“The program is going very well again this year,” volunteer Linda McCormick said. “We have more than 70 people signed up so far and we are also looking after some high school students this year. We expect we’ll help about 80 people.”
McCormick came up with the idea of Christmas Wishes last year, partially out of the admiration she has for those organizations, like the Springhill Lions Club, which go out of their way to make children enjoy Christmas. However, as much as she admired adults for going above and beyond to help the children, she also realized there are a lot of adults who go without themselves.
“There are a lot of cases of parents making sure their children have something under the tree on Christmas morning that they go without,” McCormick said. “There are also a lot of people out there who have no family or no one to share presents with. We want everyone to get something on Christmas morning.”
McCormick said programs like Toys for Tots only go to age 16, meaning there could be high school students not getting a present on Dec. 25. She began messaging others through social media last year and before she knew it she had a committee of helpers, which is this year being lead by Ocean-Lee Simmons. This allows McCormick to continue focusing her efforts on the Food for Thought program that provides food for elementary-aged school children.
“We have a small, but amazing group of people working together to make sure everyone has Christmas,” McCormick said. “Our group tries to help not just seniors, but anyone older than 16. We do get a lot of young adults who apply as well as seniors.”
McCormick said something Christmas Wishes is working to do is eliminate the stigma that may be associated with getting help at Christmas.
“Christmas is for everyone; we want to bring down the barriers. We want kids to be able to see their parents to be happy at Christmas,” she said.
Under the program, people nominated others for a Christmas gift with the value of the gifts being a maximum of approximately $40. Along with the gifts, Christmas Wishes supporters have gathered things like throw blankets, socks, slippers, chocolates and treats, hygiene products, shampoo, soap, brushes, hats, mittens, books and magazines.McCormick said the program also has tremendous support from the Springhill area business community.
Cumberland County Mayor Murray Scott said organizations like Christmas Wishes and Toys for Tots deserve so much gratitude.
“Like Food for Thought, the after-school program that supports children, Christmas Wishes and Toys for Tots help so many people,” Mayor Scott said. “People like Linda and other volunteers are what makes our community so great to live in and are examples of the wonderful work that’s taking place around Cumberland County. It always amazes me how people are prepared to step up when needed.”