Seymour’s Share Your Christmas (SYC) project, sponsored by the Seymour Lions Club, spread its Christmas cheer throughout the Seymour community last Thursday.
Eighteen local families residing within the boundaries of the Seymour R-II School District were helped, a total that included 84 people, including 52 children between the ages of 3 months and 17 years.
There were 11 first-time families.
In addition, 10 residents at Seymour’s Glenwood Healthcare received presents from the program, noted Bob Crump, local SYC chairman.
“I know that I’ve said this before, but it really does take the entire community to make this work,” Crump said. “This year was no different. There were so many who gave and stepped up in so many ways.
“This program is so successful that we often have people from other towns in the area wanting to be a part of our program, which says a lot for what is done every year.”
In every facet of the SYC project, Crump said all needs were met.
This year was the 25th anniversary of the non-perishable food drive at the Seymour Elementary School, where a total of 2,005 items were donated.
The pre-school class of Emily Hensley raised the most food items at 243 and was the winner of a pizza party, courtesy of the Seymour Lions Club.
Second place went to the local school’s other pre-school class taught by Brandi Farris.
“We had four classes that raised more than 200 donated items,” Crump said. “And there were three more classes with more than 150 items.”
As a result, families assisted by SYC had an abundance of non-perishable food.
Crump noted that in the elementary’s food drive over the past quarter century, a total of 50,800 items have been donated by students in pre-school through fifth-grade classes.
“This program wouldn’t be possible without these kids,” he said. “The food donations are one of the biggest components of what we do. If we had to buy these items to help our families, the amount of items would be much lower.”
All 18 of the families approved for holiday help received some sort of gift sponsorship.
In 12 families, all of the children were sponsored.
For six families, everyone in the household received Christmas presents.
“All of our families were sponsored from the trees at our two banks within 24 hours,” Crump said. “That has never happened before ... to have our families sponsored so quickly by the community. It really helped, as we extended the deadline for the program this year by two weeks, so the time window wasn’t as long to get sponsors.”
He added that several local businesses assist with SYC in a variety of ways.
“For example, Family Dollar and the Price Cutter here in Seymour lower their prices on products we need for the food and hygiene baskets,” he said. “Other businesses also help.”
To that end, Crump said it was a very good year for monetary donations.
“Many years ago, we established a separate account for SYC,” he explained. “We keep money in reserve for help local families impacted by tragedies throughout the year, such as a family that loses their home to a fire.”
By 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon, all of 18 of the Seymour area families who received SYC assistance had received their food and gifts.
“It was a lot of work, but it also was very rewarding for all of us involved on the volunteer side of things,” Crump concluded.
“When you see the smiles on the faces of the families who are helped, that’s when you see what makes this program so special. For many, if not all, of these families, the Christmas provided by Share Your Christmas is the only Christmas they will receive this year.”