A Touch of Country Christmas brings joy to kids each year

| December 17, 2019

Ella Casey is pictured sharing a moment with her sister Sophia Casey at the 2019 A Touch of Country Christmas. The annual event is hosted by FFA students at River View High School. Ella is a freshman at River View and Sophia is in kindergarten at Keene Elementary School. Josie Sellers | Beacon

WARSAW – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the River View High School as members of the FFA hosted its annual A Touch of Country Christmas event for children in all local school districts on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

“It’s for the kids,” said Jim Rich, FFA advisor. “We’ve got a lot of kids here, the preschool and the special needs. We just want to make their lives happier, even if it’s only for an hour or two, and that’s why we do it. It’s good for our students too. It gives them a sense of caring and community service. I think it’s our best program.”

A Touch of Country Christmas was started many years ago by Rich and his wife Karen, who has since passed away, on their tree farm. After her passing, Jim keeps the tradition going in memory of his late wife.

“It’s just a tradition now,” said Jim. “We did it out at the tree farm for years. We had a petting zoo and Santa would walk out of the rows of trees. It was just a lot of fun.”

The area was decorated with live Christmas trees and other decorations for the kids to enjoy. The main feature was the 14-foot Christmas tree that the kids were able to see right as they walked in.

“We could barely roll it onto the trailer,” said Rich. “We have a 14-foot ceiling in here, and we had to cut about three inches off of it to get it to fit.”

There was plenty of fun activities to do, and kids were excited to take a photo and receive a goody bag from Santa, climb up in his sleigh, color Christmas-themed pictures, go fishing for candy canes, and interact with pigs, goats, horses, skunks, rabbits, and ducks.

A returning feature this year that was surprising was the pony rides from Tom Roahrig. This year, the pony rides were hand-walked instead of on a wheel, which Roahrig can still legally provide.

“It’s just going out there and looking at the smiles,” said Roahrig. “It’s hard not to do it. Mr. Rich and Miss Mullet decided to try to have it even though we’ve disbanded Higher Hopes and have ended the pony rides at the fair. We decided to do it and come back, and it’s a lot of work for the people who put this on, but you look out there and see the smiles and the kids. It’s all for the kids.”

Jacob Shepler is a senior in River View FFA and this is his last Country Christmas event.

“I’ll miss this program and a lot of other things agriculture has offered me over the years,” said Shepler. “FFA has a lot of contests in what interests me in what I do outside of school like hunting and fishing.”

Shepler said he has enjoyed A Touch of Country Christmas over the years.

“It brings a lot of kids joy,” he said. “I enjoy seeing the kids have a good time.”

Photos by Josie Sellers.

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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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