2016-11-16 / Front Page

Christmas Cheer A County Tradition

There are many Christmas traditions in Fulton County, but few are more important than Christmas Cheer.

A tradition more than 30 years old, volunteers create a makeshift store in the Junior Fair Building at the Fulton County Fairgrounds, and stock it with items families may most need.

With a Cheer volunteer, the family shops the food section with everything from canned meats and soups to macaroni and cheese, fruits, juices and vegetables.

In the toiletries section, families can select items like toilet tissue, detergents and health aids.

The toy section is stocked with toys, all valued between $10 and $40.

Over the last several years, a general store has opened, giving families the opportunity to select from an ever-changing assortment of things like warm hats, gloves, blankets and, sometimes, Christmas decorations.

Rohrs

Cecily Rohrs, a community activist of rural Archbold, has chaired the Christmas Cheer operation for over 30 years.

“But,” she said, “it’s the hundreds of volunteers who make it happen.

“Many volunteers sort and stock the donations on Monday and Tuesday of the busy week and still others come to shop beside the families.”

The Cheer program is one of the finest cooperative efforts in the county, Rohrs said.

More than 1,200 families were invited to participate this year, and if they made the Nov. 15 registration deadline, they will receive a letter in the mail that serves as the ticket to participate.

The households being served are families with children, individuals, and the elderly living on limited means.

“With loyal volunteers I’m proud to say the program runs like a well-oiled machine,” she said

Among those who volunteer are students from Fulton County schools.

“We hate it that we have to run the Christmas giveaway so early in the month,” she said.

“But we need the zest and strength of our county school students in our store.

“We simply couldn’t bring it all together without them, and with some schools having exams and time to prep for those exams before the Christmas break, the early December giveaway is the only feasible way to make it happen.”

Schedule

This year, volunteers will begin bringing everything into the Junior Fair Building, Monday, Dec. 5.

“It takes a big crew to set up and tear down inside the Junior Fair building, and still others to provide the noon meal for the volunteers,” Rohrs said.

Families are allowed to shop the Cheer store from 9:30 am to 4 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 7, and from 9:30 am to 11 am, Thursday, Dec. 8.

Organizers are always seeking donations. Cash donations, all spent within the county, are used to buy in bulk quantities to fill spaces on the shelves.

New, warm, washable full-sized blankets are always welcome, as are goods for the store, especially detergent and four-packs of toilet tissue, shampoos, body washes, boxed cereals, and canned goods, especially those with meat included, Rohrs said.

Donations can be dropped off at the Junior Fair Building on Monday morning, Dec. 5.

Those in need have at least some of their needs met by a diverse donor base of companies, schools, churches, families, and civic groups.

“It’s probably the coming together of all segments of our county that thrills me the most,” Rohrs said.

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