Programs Still Accepting Gifts for Those in Need

The term “last-minute gifting” holds extra meaning for local non-profit organizations still seeking items for their gift-giving programs.

The Catholic Neighborhood Center at 125 18th St. in East Wheeling has already completed its Christmas food and toy distribution, but is still accepting gifts to give those attending dinner at noon on Christmas Day.

P.J. Reindel, director of the center, said items such as hats, gloves, scarves and toiletries are “always in need.”

“At this time of the year, it is important to recognize needs of others, particularly those less fortunate,” Reindel said.

Reindel has noticed people respond to requests received for blankets and sleeping bags, and he appreciates the community’s efforts.

In addition to providing gifts such as toys, clothing and books to more than 300 children, the center gave Christmas food baskets to almost 400 families during its distribution.

Wheeling Salvation Army Maj. John Blevins said his organization has “been blessed this year” with many donations for its toy drive. With 283 families signed up to receive presents Monday, the Salvation Army is grateful to the community.

“Thank you to the whole community for the support through money, donations and toys,” Blevins said.

Maj. Dianna Blevins added the shelter can still use fitted sheets, twin blankets and cleaning supplies.

Janine Pietras, a social worker, emphasized the range of sources that contributed to the Salvation Army’s cause.

“We all try to help; we’re all here for the right reasons,” Pietras said. “It’s amazing what people here, from little restaurants to big companies, donated.”

According to Michelle Lucarelli, associate director at the House of The Carpenter, 200 S. Front St., the Christian organization has also already completed its main holiday gifting efforts by providing 473 children living below poverty guidelines with presents via a Christmas kids’ program. She recognized the value of community contributions to non-profits wanting to provide every child with a present.

“People of the Ohio Valley have been wonderful in stepping up and trying to help children in the valley who have been less fortunate,” Lucarelli said. “We’ve been lucky to have individuals and businesses step up to the plate to help sponsor children.”

Lucarelli added that for guardians such as parents making minimum wage, it can be “difficult to stretch everything” while budgeting for Christmas.