Christmas Castle helps almost 400 families

| December 18, 2020

Seven-year-old Jacob Haines gives a big thumbs up at the checkout during the Christmas Castle shopping event. (Marianne Austin)

The Salvation Army Christmas Castle had 382 families signed up this year which means a total of 626 children will have a happy Christmas thanks to the generosity of people in the community.

Major Vicki Clark said, “Coshocton County has been so generous. The  Angels group from newborn to 5-years-old receive $40 each, the kiddos from 6 to 18 including seniors who graduated in 2020 receive $75. Because of COVID this year instead of a food basket families will get a gift card for Wal-Mart or Buehler’s; two wonderful organizations partnering with us this year. We want to make sure we take care of families without children too. One hundred eighty-seven of those households got food gift certificates which helps two to three hundred individuals in these families.”
Beginning the day after Thanksgiving WTNS was The Salvation Army’s voice.
“They raised $51,000,” Clark said. “Without them we couldn’t have come near that amount. Everyday Mike Bechtol was getting the word out on his talk show and we are still getting donations. The wonderful people in this county understand the value and the importance of this. To help make sure everyone has a wonderful and enjoyable Christmas. People hug us with tears in their eyes and say, ‘We didn’t think we were going to have a Christmas but you helped.’ We’re here to keep that spirit of Christmas alive. I’m grateful to be serving in my hometown. It’s a great honor. There were 123 new families this year who heard about us through flyers and WTNS. This is one of those moments we get to experience the true joy of Christmas. “

Miles Griffiths picks out some new shoes with a little help from his grandmother Juanita Griffiths. (Marianne Austin)

Clark distributed the vouchers in front of the shoe department while her husband Major Tom Clark and volunteer Antonia Rettos helped people check out at the register Friday evening.

“I get to see them when they’re fresh and excited and he gets to see them when they’re finished shopping and worn out,” she said.
Rettos said this is her first time to volunteer at the register but its fun and fast paced. She enjoys being a part of helping children and working with Vicki and Tom. “They’re great people,” she said.
Major Tom Clark was ready at the checkout with a cart full of warm socks in case the total was off and they needed a small purchase to balance the total amount. “Sometimes they don’t read the tag right or  realize this is tax exempt and some pass the extra on to someone else,” he said. “There is very good cooperation and appreciation from families. Some of the teens like looking through the clearance rack to get twice as much and stretch their allotment – it’s a financial decision. It’s exciting. A lot of the kids have never been able to pick out $75 worth of anything.”
Juanita and Jeff Griffiths are raising their grandson Miles. Juanita was a nurse for 15 years and an ordained minister in The Salvation Army as a social worker/case manager working in the Northeast United States. Eventually she returned to Coshocton because it was home.  She has been a member of The Salvation Army all of her life and has seen how much they love and take care of the community. Now she has a rare form of sarcoidosis that has confined her to a wheelchair. She was in Hospice  a year ago until last August.
“I didn’t think I would make it but I am here this Christmas because of the many prayers and God’s love and healing,” she said. “I can’t help in the community anymore but I can take care of my grandson Miles. He is my pride and joy. We are so grateful to the community for giving to help us. We’re beyond blessed.”

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