ASHTABULA — Children won’t get a chance to belt out Christmas tunes from the G.O. Development Corp. stage this year, but presents will be under the tree.
“I am so blessed. It is very helpful,” said Jessica Thompson as she picked presents for her children on Friday morning at the Station Avenue center.
She said the kids were a little upset they weren’t going to be able to gather with everyone and meet Santa Claus, but she explained the situation and how the pandemic has changed so much.
Volunteers and staff at G.O. Development have been working on the Christmas program since October, said director Francis Norman.
“These are my elves,” Norman said of Carol Hunter and Debbie Hill, who have been working five days a week since October to get the presents ready for the children.
Norman said the pair wrapped an estimated 1,000 gifts and were still working on some on Friday morning. She said the gifts were donated by a many people and churches.
“[The donors] just did it. The community has been so generous,” she said.Norman said there is a “Secret Santa” who bought three car loads of gifts for children.
“I don’t even know her name,” Norman said. The lengthy planning helped make the four-day event a little less chaotic than having 500-600 people in a gymnasium, Norman said. She said Friday marked the beginning of gift pick-up.
“We are doing [appointments] every 10 minutes,” she said.More than 425 children are scheduled to receive gifts by Tuesday evening, Norman said.
She said the pick up system allows fewer people to have personal contact during the pandemic.
Each child is scheduled to receive two to three gifts, a candy bag and the family will get a bag of groceries, Norman said. She said hats and gloves were also a part of the process.
“It’s different,” Norman said of the process. She said it was running smoothly on Friday morning.
“It is nice to have the kids party but this is easier and faster,” Norman said.
A large number of families are scheduled for gift pick-up today. She said several Youth Opportunity workers will be on hand today to assist in taking the food and groceries to the car.
Brittany Chambers volunteered her time on Saturday morning along with Olajuwon Smith who also created a computer spread sheet to help organize the recipients.
Chambers said she volunteers in memory of her mother Valerie Chambers who assisted G.O. Development Corp.
“When she passed, we kept it [going],” Chambers said.
ASHTABULA — Children ran to the stage of G.O. Development Corp. on Saturday afternoon to try their dance steps and celebrate the Christmas season.
The 24th edition of the event included more than 430 children, said G.O. Development Corp. Board President Drew Thomas.
“We had 437 kids signed up,” he said.“They all will go home with three presents and the family with a garbage bag filled with groceries,” Thomas said before receiving a gift from the board for all his work.
“A lot of this would not be possible without Drew Thomas and his family,” said organization co-founder John Salters before making the presentation.Hundreds of people ate a free lunch, sang with the music led by Isaiah Salters and talked with friends.
Isaiah Salters got the party rolling with music and games keeping the children active and interested. He credited the children for the break dancing.“They did a great job,” he said.
Another group of children had the opportunity to create a Christmas dance to perform with a song. He had the crowd pick the winner, but gave prizes to all of the contestants.John Salters said there were 50 to 60 volunteers that made the party a reality. The parking lot at the facility was packed during the height of the party.
The area in front of the gym’s stage was the place to be as children tried to get as close to the performers as possible with parents not far behind.
Santa also spent several hours taking pictures with children at the event that is the highlight of many area families’ Christmas experience.
Ashtabula County Medical Center’s registered nurses donated $1,000 Friday to G.O. Community Development Corp. Pictured here (left to right) G.O. CDC President Drew Thomas, nurse Joe Chike, nurse Kim Evans, nurse Sheenna HInes and baby Cooper, and G.O. CDC Director Frances Norman.
ASHTABULA — As winter approaches, Ashtabula County Medical Center’s registered nurses have stepped up to help a local non-profit organization with its heating bills.The nurses donated $1,000 on Friday to G.O. Community Development Corporation so it may continue serving those in need at Station Avenue (the former Thurgood Marshall Elementary School).
“We really appreciate it; it’s needed,” said Drew Thomas, president of G.O. CDC. “Our biggest need is when the boiler runs in the winter. It costs about $3,000 a month to heat this place.”G.O. CDC has been a non-profit organization since 1999.
They run a soup kitchen, a recreation center and gym, a clothing bank, shoe closet and other outreach activities. They work with Birthcare, Helping Independent Parents (HIP), NarAnon and other groups.
“We also have an annual free Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas party where we give out free toys and gifts to 400 kids, plus food giveaways at various times throughout the year,” Thomas said. “In August, we had a back-to-school giveaway.
We gave away backpacks filled with school supplies.”The most recent addition is a Shoe Closet — an idea that came to fruition, thanks to G.O. CDC Director Frances Norman.
ACMC registered nurses Kim Evans, Joe Chike and Sheenna Hines were surprised at the number of new shoes, of all styles and sizes, in the Shoe Closet.
The “closet” is not a closet, but rather, a large former classroom.”Wow!” said Evans.
“I like the leopard print ones over there!”Thomas said those will go fast.”We provide shoes to anyone in need,” Norman said. “
October 18 and 19 we will be giving away new boots, coats, mittens, gloves and blankets from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to anyone in need.”G.O. CDC is the result of the research, planning and coordination of John and the late Mae Salters and the Salters family.
The Salters’ vision is to provide a family center committed to providing food, clothing and help for the community.
It’s that time of year again and as the summer winds down and Ohio families start preparing for an exciting new school year, the team at G.O. Community Development Corporation along with our friends at Paramount Advantage and Z107.9 have DOUBLED OUR EFFORTS to provide children with the tools they need to succeed. On August 10th, 2019, @ 12pm we will be giving away backpacks filled with essential school supplies (while supplies last).
Many children across Ohio look forward to back-to-school shopping, where they can pick out fun and colorful supplies like folders, pencils, crayons, and even a new backpack—to start the new year fresh. Unfortunately, this can put a serious strain on many families and teachers across Ohio.
Along with a generous contribution by Paramount Advantage and Z107.9, who funded the backpacks and supplies, the staff of G.O. CDC mean to fill the gap and serve those families in need and make sure everyone starts the 2019-2020 school on the right foot.
One in every five school-age child lives in poverty, making it difficult for parents to afford these supplies. When you factor in that teachers themselves spend, on average, $578 of their own salary to fund school supplies for their classrooms each year.