Updated Thu, Dec 19, 2013 10:50 am
Christmas cheer has been in the air all month with multiple events being held for families throughout Hocking County, and Karen Sarver and her merry little elves have been in the mix of it all.
Early Sunday morning, Sarver and her volunteers showed up at Century National Bank to put the finishing touches on their yearly event, Toys to Share.
This marks the 31st anniversary of the program that has helped thousands of Hocking County families have a very merry Christmas each year.
Volunteer Jean Mundy paid tribute to Sarver for her 31 years of dedication to the program and the families helped each year. “If it wasn’t for Karen’s dedication to the program, this wouldn’t be possible. She makes sure the kids get so many of the things they ask for,” she explained.
This year, 540 kids from 214 families applied for assistance through the program and all were accepted. Toys to Share was able to provide Christmas presents to all the children to make sure they have a happy holiday.
Throughout the year, Sarver raised a little more than $6,000 to divide between children for the purchase of items on their Christmas wish list. Although presents were distributed last weekend, Sarver is still busy completing last minute emergencies referred from local agencies in an effort to see that all kids in Hocking County have something from Santa to open on Christmas morning.
Participating families also received a raffle ticket for a new bike donated by the Logan Rotary Club. The Rotary Club, with the support of Walmart, the Tansky family, Logan Holl Foundation and private donations, was able to distribute 109 bikes and two outdoor sport sets for the children.
“We were able to distribute more bikes this year thanks to the support of the community,” explained Logan Rotary Treasurer Joe Murtha. Inspired by the desire to make children’s dreams come true, the Logan Rotary Club’s Christmas Bike project has been a huge success the past eight years.
Each year the club joins forces with Toys to Share to make sure each child has a new bike under the tree on Christmas morning. In the past, club members accepted new or used bike donations for the project, but the cost of repairs became so overwhelming that Murtha said the group decided to only purchase or receive new bikes this year.
“Last year we had 86 bikes, but this year we were able to provide at least 105 bikes to the kids,” Murtha said.
Murtha, along with fellow Rotarians Mike McGreevy and Damon Kuhn, helped with the bicycle distribution.
Sarver said families received a ticket, which was then put into a bucket. The tickets were drawn one-by-one and as the numbers were called, that person, whether child or an adult, picked out a bike he or she wanted.
“This continues until all bikes are gone,” Sarver said. “The goal is to make sure each family gets a bike for their child.”
“Without the help of the Rotary Club and the generosity of the community as well as my group of volunteers, this program would not be possible,” she continued. “Everyone pitches in and makes sure Christmas is good for those who would otherwise have no Christmas.”
Sarver’s merry little elves this year included Chris McDaniel, Berne Fleet, Leigha Fleet, Jean Mundy, her son Jason and daughter-in-law Susan Sarver, Jocelyn Sarver, Josh Sarver, Nicolas Sarver, and two parents who received toys for their kids but wanted to remain anonymous.
Although the Toys to Share event is done for another year, Sarver and her elves work year-round collecting toys and donations to help with the following year’s event.
“We will start again on Dec. 26 for next year,” Sarver said. “We really need support in raising funds to get back to past levels. We shop at the clearance sales all year, allowing us to use our donations to maximize the number and quality of gifts purchased.”
“It was just such a heart-warming day and such thoughtful people,” Sarver added. “It just goes to show how nice people are and how giving they are. People open their hearts during this time of year and give so generously.”
“It’s all about making Christmas a bright and happy one for the kids in Hocking County.”
For more information on Toys to Share or to donate to the program, contact Sarver at 740-385-3431 or visit the Toys to Share Facebook page. Anyone wishing to donate to the Logan Rotary Bike project should contact Murtha at 740-603-0234.