G.O. Development brings Christmas joy to area families

ByG.O. Community Development Corporation

G.O. Development brings Christmas joy to area families

Reading Time: 2 minutes

ASHTABULA — Christmas is a little brighter for many area families struggling to make ends meet thanks to the hard work of G.O. Development Corp.

The organization has been providing food and Christmas presents to those in need in Ashtabula County for more than 20 years.

“We’ve been working throughout the year. You can’t do this overnight,” said Frances Norman, director of operations for the organization.

She said she usually starts shopping in early January when Christmas and winter items go on sale.

“We can get coats for almost half off,” she said.

Drew Thomas, president of G.O. Development Corp., said children were allowed to pick one gift, $50 or under, and families received a variety of food to make the holiday season a bit brighter.

Norman said the group cross checks applicants with Catholic Charities and Asa’s Angels to make sure people aren’t double dipping for gifts.

“There is so much need out there,” she said.

The families arrived by 9 a.m. for the 11 a.m. start to the gift collection process, organizers said.

Charlie Lawson, 5, of Conneaut was excited about the big event and excitedly peeked his head through a door looking for Santa and his presents.

“This is amazing. This is the biggest blessing we have for all the families,” said Charlie’s mother, Jamie Lawson.

Thomas said different volunteers help put the big day together and Carol Hunter focuses on the purchase of presents.

“It has been over 10 years. I just like doing it,” she said.

Norman said a local person made blankets for families. A variety of Christmas decorations and figurines also were available.

Each of the more than 00 children had their name on a bag with their presents inside and volunteers matched the bag with the child.

Santa Claus and the Grinch also made appearances at the event.

The party used to include singing, music groups with hundreds of people eating a meal together.

Thomas said he hopes the organization will be able to have a large group event, but have held off because of COVID-19, which is still affecting area residents.

“Hopefully we can do something next year,” he said.

About the author

G.O. Community Development Corporation administrator

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