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A Touch of Country Christmas gives back to the community

| December 10, 2015
Goat: One of the goats at River View High School’s A Touch of Country Christmas decided to jump up and say hi to Brittany Wesney who was at the event with students from Warsaw Elementary School. Beacon photo by Josie Sellers

Goat: One of the goats at River View High School’s A Touch of Country Christmas decided to jump up and say hi to Brittany Wesney who was at the event with students from Warsaw Elementary School. Beacon photo by Josie Sellers

WARSAW – On Thursday, Dec. 10, the River View FFA workshop area was transformed into a Christmas wonderland complete with pony rides, pictures with Santa, Christmas music, and children smiling from ear to ear. This annual event has become a Christmas tradition for the past 17 years and each year is dedicated to the memory of Karen Rich who passed away in 2006.

“The idea came from our tree farm,” said Jim Rich. “We did something similar to this at the tree farm, and we used to call it A Touch of a Country Christmas. This is all in her honor.”

Each year, A Touch of Country Christmas invites elementary students from all over the county and surrounding counties to participate. This year, they had approximately 220 students RSVP and they came from River View elementary schools, East Knox, Hopewell, and Head Start. River View High School AG students donate their time, working ahead in their classrooms so they can take the day off to be Santa’s helpers at the event. River View graduates even come back and help each year during the event. Most came to the event as an elementary student and are now volunteering as a high school student.

“It’s become a tradition,” said Allyssa McMullen. “I did it when I was here in high school. It’s a great program and it affects a lot of students, not only the students coming, but the high school students.”

Rich echoed McMullen’s comment.

“We feel it’s just as beneficial to our high school students as it is to the elementary students who are coming,” said Rich. “It’s good for the high school students to work with the elementary students. A lot of the time, when they ask (the high school students) what was the most important project of the year, they mention this project.”

The AG students donate some of the animals for the event, although the ponies for the pony rides come from Tom Roahrig at Higher Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center.

“You ask kids what was their favorite ride and they all say the pony ride,” said McMullen. “We really appreciate Tom bringing in the ponies and setting up the pony rides.”

During the Higher Hopes auction, bidders can bid on items placed in a sleigh and those items are then donated to a school who attends A Touch of Country Christmas.

“It’s a good thing to take stuff out from the auction and give it right back to the kids,” said Roahrig.

A Touch of Country Christmas also receives funding through the Warsaw Lions Club and the school board. Some members volunteer their time to help during the event.

Not only could students ride the ponies, but they could also interact with other animals like sheep, rabbits, llamas, goats, and even a pet skunk. Other activities included a coloring table, signing the Country Christmas wall, a cookie walk, and a chance to sit on Santa’s lap for a picture. They could also socialize with students from other school districts.

Rich, McMullen, and Roahrig all graduated from River View High School and for them, this program is about giving back to the community.

“Because of what we gained here at River View, we’d like to return that to the community,” said Roahrig. “We’re honoring the past and presenting the future with better things.”

When asked why they continue the program each year, Roahrig said, “Those smiles are what it’s all about.”

For more photos of the event, go to our website at coshoctonbeacontoday.com.

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Category: Education, Multimedia, Photo Galleries

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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