On Wednesday, December 19th, OPEN M will once again open its doors for their “Christmas for the Love of Children” program. Each year OPEN M partners with the Akron Public Schools counselors to identify the most in-need families within the district. This year over 580 children in nearly 200 different families were identified through APS, as well as OPEN M’s internal programing.
The Christmas for the Love of Children Program is fully funded by individuals and groups throughout the Akron and Summit County region. Each family who is selected fills out an extensive application, which covers everything from the children’s favorite colors, most wanted toys and clothing sizes. The families are then distributed to the private sponsors that OPEN M obtains and the shopping begins!
Each child is provided $50 worth of gifts from their list; a brand new set of school supplies for the second half of the year; stocking stuffers that the parents pick from the free tables at OPEN M on distribution day and even wrapping paper; brand new pajamas from the “Pajama Ladies”, Lisa Becker & Mary Rinaldi; and each family also receives a box of food from OPEN M’s pantry with everything the family needs for Christmas dinner, including the Turkey.
On Wednesday, November 28th the prep work for the food boxes began with the help of Joe Love’s class from Norwayne High School. The students have been a staple the past couple years when its came time for OPEN M’s Food and Building Manager, Julie Carneal to begin packing the 210 boxes with over 70 individual items totaling over 180lbs!
Each family’s Christmas Food Box is fully packed with everything they will need to prepare a full Christmas dinner for their families with all the trimmings, turkey, personal care items and even cookies to leave for Santa on Christmas Eve. Individual OPEN M partner churches and businesses collected over 200 items each that are dropped off and assembled to create each family’s food box.
Loads of volunteers aide the preparation of the “Christmas for the Love of Children” program by assembling food boxes, organizing the gifts, baking cookies and helping on the December 19th distribution day, but more are always needed! Volunteers may sign up directly at http://www.openm.org/christmas.
Opportunity Parish Ecumenical Neighborhood Ministry (OPEN M) is a vibrant and highly effective nonprofit organization that serves more than 9,000 individuals annually with education, food, employment, social, and health services–all intended to break the cycle of poverty and improve the health of our community, one family at a time. Located at 941 Princeton St., Akron, Ohio, in one of the community’s most disadvantaged areas, OPEN M leverages a community alliance of churches, businesses and more than 1,200 volunteers to offer programs to those in need. Please visit us at www.OPENM.org