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Cuyahoga Falls -- More than 500 families will enjoy a brighter Christmas thanks to the work of a local charity group.
Kim Gaug, chairperson for Cuyahoga Falls Good Neighbors, said her organization assisted 509 families consisting of 823 adults and seniors and 535 children during its annual Christmas Drive at its Second Street location Dec. 13 through 15. The families received gifts for their children, as well as food, household items, winter wear and even school supplies if needed.
Gaug said each family received anywhere from two to four toys per child, a blanket that Good Neighbors purchased through monetary donations, two household items, and school supplies, as well as hats, gloves or mittens if those were needed. She added her group received a lot of gift card donations to give to families with teenagers.
Plenty of toys were available due to the ones donated by the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department through its "Toys For Tickets" program, Gaug said.
Gaug noted she sees families passing through who are dealing with challenging circumstances.
"We have one set of grandparents who have legal custody of their four grandchildren because their daughter and her husband are both heroin addicts," said Gaug. "We have several families dealing with various cancer issues. Several families have taken in their children and grandchildren. We are here to help these families because to us they are the real heroes."
She also shared that a couple took a young man "under their wing" and are assisting him after they found him living in a vehicle on the back of their property.
"He appreciates anything he is offered and takes very little, saying others need it worse than he does," added Gaug. "It shows there is good in life."
She also offered kudos to the 30 to 50 volunteers who pitched in every day during the drive to help distribute toys and other items. Students from both the Cuyahoga Falls and Stow city school districts each delivered a busload of food and gifts that the districts collected. The students were allowed to stay and assist Good Neighbors volunteers with sorting the items, according to Gaug.
"We look forward to them each year and they are happy to help us," said Gaug.
Cuyahoga Falls Good Neighbors provides emergency food and clothing and household items to families living in Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, Munroe Falls, Hudson and Peninsula. The group is located at 1742 Second St. across from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cuyahoga Falls. Those desiring assistance must have a referral to come for help. The phone number is 330-928-8057.
The site is now closed during the holidays and will re-open on Jan. 3 to accept donations.