Nicole Withrow has brought the multi-county, non-profit organization to Huron County.
Project Happy, which partners with OHgo, makes the effort to gather and deliver Christmas gifts to children of families in need — something she said is more prominent locally than most people realize.
What we do at Project Happy is we collect shoe boxes of gifts for ages 2 to 12 that the community leaves at drop-off locations,” Withrow said. “Then, on Dec. 23 we go door to door in the community to deliver them. We go through local school districts and the police and we find those that may be in need.”
Withdraw said the drop of locations are located throughout the county, including at local schools, the Norwalk Fire Station and Sherri’s Coffee House. Anyone who would like to help, can simply grab an empty shoe box or a small plastic tote which may be located at the drop off sites for people to use, fill it with gifts, label it with which gender and age group the gifts are targeted for and drop it off by Dec. 15.
Withdraw said the gifts don’t have to be elaborate.
“You just fill it with things you think they could need or would like,” she said. “Personal hygiene for our local kids, they get excited about having toothpaste, body wash or shampoo of their own. Or lot of the kids need socks and gloves. I hate to see that our local kids need those things, but they do.”
With still a month before the Dec. 23 delivery date, the outpouring of generosity she has seen already has touched Withrow’s heart.
“Locally, it just makes me speechless,” she said of the community’s giving. “When we came home from (volunteering in another county) last year, I said to my husband, ‘Do you think we could do this in our home county?’ I thought even 20 boxes would be great. But the community, the fire departmnet and Sherri’s and the local drop spots — they have reached out in every way possible. This is absolutely great for our community.”
Beyond filling show boxes with gifts, those who are interested can volunteer to participate in the door-to-door delivery of the gifts taking place Dec. 23.
“This is our first year doing this in Huron County and we have more than 50 people on our roster for delivery so far,” she said. “I would guess by that night, we’ll have about 75. That’s great because the more gifts we get, the more we can deliver and the more volunteers we get the faster we can deliver them.”
Last year the organzation had about 1,000 gifts. Withdraw said she expects as a whole, the number will grow this year with Huron County not participating.
“I love this because it really gets you into that true meaning of Christmas,” she said. “I feel like the true meaning is giving, and realizing it’s not about receiving. When you go to the door and realize you’re giving that gift to that special person, it just feels good. Some kids, they’re not receiving anything. To help that kid and to make the stress on that parent just a little less, — because that can be hard on a parent trying to provide a big Chrismas for their child — that makes me me happy. That’s what Christmas is about.”
To find out more information, donate or volunteer, visit the OHgo or Project Happy Huron County Volunteers Facebook pages.