Volunteer brings gifts to needy families
A toy to unwrap on Christmas morning, a warm hat and gloves, maybe a book.
These are some of the items more than 250 needy children found under their Christmas trees thanks to a dedicated volunteer at the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Simon House Thrift Store in Columbus.
For Sherry Drummond, 70, a member of St. Anthony Parish in Columbus, Christmas is about kindness and generosity toward others, which is why she coordinates the store’s Christmas gift giveaway.
"Each year we try to provide a Christmas for needy families by letting them pick out gifts for their children," she said.
"Christmas is for the children, and so we try to make sure that each child has some gifts, such as age-appropriate toys, and of course, some clothing."
Drummond, who has volunteered at Simon House for more than seven years, gives many hours during the Christmas season, said Lucy Lutjelusche, Simon House store manager.
"She gets everything ready, setting up our conference room like Santa’s workshop. Then she walks parents through, making suggestions on what is age-appropriate and personally helping them select just the right gifts for their children."
For older children, that might be some form of electronics. For a younger child, it might be a doll.
Drummond said she tries to give two or three gifts per child. "I also try to give them books. I believe very strongly in reading. And I always give away hats and gloves, because kids can always use them."
She also gives out items of a spiritual nature, such as religious books, crosses, rosaries and Bibles.
Simon House purchases many of the gifts using monetary donations – $1,300 this year – but also receives donations of excess merchandise year-round from several area stores.
Each year, Drummond tries to make sure the toys are what children will want by asking the merchants what items are big sellers. This year, it was electronic games, remote control cars, "Bratz" and other dolls, make-up kits, and items connected with the movie, "Frozen."
"Sometimes the parents are not aware of what the kids are really into right now," Drummond said. "As long as we have those items, we try to give them out."
And as a year-round volunteer, Drummond watches for items coming in to Simon House that can be saved and given away for Christmas.
"It takes a lot of work to set up for and clean up after the giveaway, and decide what is good enough to save for next year," Lutjelusche said.
"I can’t get over how much she gives to our community and to Simon House, and the compassion she feels for our clients. That’s what we strive for here – to let people know we’re here for them."
"It’s a good feeling to help people who are in need," Drummond said. "It’s really nice to make someone’s day and relieve the pressure on the parents who might feel guilty because, otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to provide those presents."