That, after all, is what Project Happy is all about — spreading Christmas joy to area children in need.
Last year, the gift boxes went to about 1,200 children in Huron County and nearly 1,800 in Erie County. Project Happy is part of OHgo, a volunteer-based, community outreach non-profit organization that started in Erie County.
Reagan King, a freshman who helped Chasney with wrapping a container Wednesday, said the gift boxes are a nice gesture.
“I think it’s really cool that everyone is getting a present,” said junior Adam Frederick, who was busy working at another table in the EHS library. “And community service is so important.”
More than 70 Edison students packaged and wrapped 300-plus gift boxes Wednesday afternoon during what’s now an annual wrapping party. Members of the Interact and Spanish clubs plus the varsity girls’ basketball team were involved.
Kendra Faulkner, who co-founded OHgo with Sandusky resident Christine Boesch, said it was “awesome” seeing all the students wrap the boxes.
“This is our kick-off event for Project Happy, so this is our first time seeing the quantity of boxes come in, so that’s awesome for us. It’s cool to be able to visualize what we’re about to start. It makes all the work we’re going to start doing worth it,” Faulkner said.
“Last year we did 75 (gender and age) neutral boxes and then I believe some of the students had other boxes that they had brought in that they were wrapping.”
“Today we are doing 75 neutral boxes (and) the basketball team is doing 80 neutral boxes,” added Faulkner, who saw another 25 or 30 containers about to be wrapped also. “I think they started with 100 boxes (overall) before they did this today.”
Alumni game donations
The Lady Chargers became involved through the interest of Alana Fidler and Molly Houser, who also are the Interact Club presidents. Through a Nov. 23 alumni basketball game coordinated by the seniors, the team raised about $1,200 for Project Happy to fill more than 80 gift boxes.
“We wanted to help the kids who don’t have a Christmas,” said Houser, the daughter of Brian and Stephanie.
The Interact Club is a community service-based organization that focuses on volunteer projects.
“Interact is like the baby group of the Rotary. Their main objective all throughout the year is to volunteer — anything somebody needs done. A guy called the other day and wanted his yard rake, (so) I sent kid over there,” adviser Patty Moyer said.
“Last week they packed military boxes. They’ve been ringing the bell for The Salvation Army every weekend.”
The players invited 25 to 30 alumni to the basketball game.
“Not all of them played, but a majority of them showed up and donated,” Houser said.
School counselor Elisa Brown has said the Edison community is proud of effort of these “awesome girls” on the team and “amazed by the number of boxes they are adding to the cause.”
Faulkner was with the team when the players ordered the items for the boxes.
“It was hard for them to spend all the money had brought in, so we had to spend more,” she said. “Once they sit back there and see how much they packed, you can watch their eyes (get big). You can see the difference in their faces too.”
In Huron County, the drop-off locations for gift boxes are: Sheri's Coffee House, the Huron County Sheriff's Office, Buckeye Express Car Wash, CLI workshop, Kenilee Lanes, the Willard Police Department and Fawcett Tax & Accounting in New London. Brochures with further details are available at each location.
‘Rewarding’ deliveries, full hearts
Fidler helped deliver the gift boxes last year.
“I think it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I wanted to make a contribution to make sure more kids got presents,” said the daughter of Julie and the late Robert Fidler.
Delivery day is Dec. 23. To register as a volunteer, go to ohgoreach.org.
“We are looking for volunteers. We can only cover so much ground. … Anybody can volunteer,” said volunteer Nicole Withrow, of Norwalk, who brought Project Happy to Huron County. “We go to neighborhoods throughout the county and we go door to door.”
Moyer had to dab her eyes when she talked about seeing the dozens of smiling students wrap presents.
“Right now I’m kind of an emotional wreck. My heart is so full that we are able to instill in our kids the joy of giving, the joy of doing for others and expecting absolutely nothing back in return,” the EHS librarian said.
Moyer was asked what she thinks the students will get out of the Project Happy wrapping-party experience.
“We do projects all the time,” she said, referring to the volunteers in the EHS Interact Club. “I never have to beg for a kid to come forward. … If I say I need five people, I have 15 people.
“You can look at our sign-up sheets and everything. It’s crazy that this group wants to give back; you don’t have to force them to give back. Their parents are definitely doing something right.”