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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.

ByG.O. Community Development Corporation

G.O. serves more than 600 children

Reading Time: < 1 minute

ASHTABULA — Hundreds of people waited in line early Saturday morning in hopes of receiving shoes for their children, back to school supplies, as well as fun activities for the children.

G.O. Development Corp. sponsored the event under the leadership of Frances Norman and Angie Maki-Cliff, and they served double the amount of people who participated last year, Norman said.

Norman said 624 people registered, and the organization served about 300 last year.


“They [the people] were here at 8:30 [a.m.], and we opened at 11 a.m.,” Norman said. She said a pre-registration process led to those who signed up early receiving assistance first.

Norman said issues in the economy, including inflation, have led more people to seek assistance to help their children.

By noon, there were still many people in line waiting for underwear, shoes and backpacks. Children also were treated to hot dogs, ice cream and face painting.


Angie Maki-Cliff is now helping to organize some of the G.O. Development Corp.’s bigger events. “I think the turnout is amazing,” she said while registering people to receive the assistance.

Maki-Cliff said a grant from the Morrison Foundation helped pay for shoes for the children.

Norman said the rest of the supplies came from personal donations. She credited area churches, organizations and individuals for making the event possible.

“We could not do it without them,” she said.

Theresa Steiner attended the event with her 10-year-old son Zane. “It’s nice because it is something nice for the kids, and it allows people to get some extra supplies …Money is tight,” she said.

ByG.O. Community Development Corporation

Volunteers make Thanksgiving brighter for many

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Volunteers took time from their Thanksgiving holiday to reach out to others before heading home for their own time with family.

G.O. Development Corp. volunteers spent much of the week preparing food and then arrived early Thursday morning to package it up for 450 people throughout the area, said G.O.D.C. President Drew Thomas. He said 380 meals were delivered and 70 picked up at the Station Avenue headquarters.

Thomas said 28 volunteers were involved in the process.

“This is my first time [volunteering]. It was fun it feels good to do it,” said Cathy Marcy, of Kingsville Township, who helped sort the meals for distribution.

The volunteers disbursed from Station Avenue to individual homes throughout the community and to Ashtabula Towers, Gulfview Towers and Lakeview Towers.

“It means a lot. I have something to eat,” said a thankful Steven Radwancky at Ashtabula Towers.

Down the road at Gulfview Towers Pam Deary was also glad for a meal she didn’t have to prepare.

“My husband is passed and the kids are down in Dorset. No reason to make a turkey for myself,” she said.


ByG.O. Community Development Corporation

G.O. Community Development Corporation celebrates Christmas

Reading Time: 2 minutesChristmas songs, food, gifts and the celebration of Jesus’ birth brought more than 380 people to the G.O. Community Development Corporation Friday afternoon.John Salters started the annual Christmas party at 3703 Station Ave. 21 years ago with his late wife, Mae.”My wife would be smiling in heaven,” he said. Salters said his son Isaiah led the children in music and games on the gymnasium stage.”This is awesome. It is much more than I ever thought it would be,” Salters said.Isaiah Salters got the crowd into the music and urged the children to put toothpaste on their noses and pass cotton balls to each other in a “relay” race on stage in front of their families and friends. The results were mixed based on the participants’ ratio of toothpaste to cotton balls.Tables lined the gym floor as people munched on food and sang along with Christmas carols. ”It is a beautiful thing to get the kids out of the house and have a nice Christmas,” said Megan Stuper of Ashtabula.Amber Miner said she has been coming to the event since it started. ”I love it,” she said.More than 200 children attended the party, said Drew Thomas, president of the G.O. Community Development Corporation’s board of directors. ”Everybody gets a couple of presents,” Thomas said, adding a local donation made it possible for 33 children to receive bicycles. ”We will have some happy children,” he said before the lucky winners were selected. ”We had a great response as far as donations.”He said the organization, which offers food, clothing and household items to those in need, feeds 45 to 75 people Monday through Friday at the headquarters on Station Avenue. While the organization has some money in the bank, there are a lot of needs. ”Our electric bill was $2,200 last month,” he said.Thomas said there were large donations of $8,000, $5,000 and $3,000, but the money is needed to continue feeding area residents and the operation of programs such as the center’s recreation center and computer lab.He said anyone interested in making a donation can send checks for G.O. CDC to P.O. Box 1173. Thomas said he can also be reached at 216-780-3845.Story by Warren Dillaway

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