The Coronavirus, and the potentially fatal illness it causes, have disrupted almost everything this year; but some very important traditions carry on.
Fulton County Christmas Cheer, the annual program that helps county families in need, is set again to serve those families.
In years past, Cheer and its volunteers gathered donations ranging from food to toys and set up a “store” in the Fulton County Junior Fair building.
Over a two-day period, families in need could shop at the store.
Not this year.
Lilli Radabaugh, chairman of the Cheer Christmas program, said families will still come through the fairgrounds, but will never leave their car.
Families, recommended to Cheer by another organization, previously registered for the event. They can arrive at the Fairgrounds Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 9-10.
When they arrive, they will be given a list of items to choose from. Available for selection are things like towel sets, blankets, and coffee.
Radabaugh said as families follow a path laid out for them and as they “zigzag around the parking lot,” the requests are pulled from stock by volunteers and hand-delivered to cars.
Each family will also receive a pre-packaged box of food items and a $30 gift card to a Fulton County grocery store of their choice.
If a family has children, each child receives a $30 gift card to shop a local discount store.
Cecily Rohrs, head of the Cheer program, said many volunteers who work with Cheer are in their 80s.
With the threat of the Coronavirus, those octogenarians “cannot be there,” Rohrs said.
Instead, volunteers who worked with Cheer in the past were asked to come back to serve the needy.
“It was invitation only,” Radabaugh said. “We wanted to keep our volunteers to a small number due to COVID.”
COVID refers to COVID- 19, the illness caused by the Coronavirus.
One major difference is there will be no open donation of toys or other items, again due to the threat of the Coronavirus.
“We can’t have families picking up and putting down items,” Rohrs said.
Radabaugh said the goal for 2020 is to make sure each family receives the same value of food and other items as in the past.
That, she said, is why cash donations are so important.
Christmas Cheer was originally established 36 years ago.
For 35 of those years, Rohrs headed the program.
This year, Rohrs remains the chairman.
The Christmas portion of Cheer is headed by a committee of Jessica and Mike Short, Michelle Collins, Paul Thiel, and Kim Krieger, with Radabaugh as chair.
Radabaugh said Cheer will serve about 500 families.
Among those families are about 600 children, a little bit more than last year, she said.
Radabaugh said, “It’s going to be a drive-up drivethru,” Christmas Cheer.– David Pugh