‘Stuff a Cruiser’ Event Lends a Helping Hand in Wheeling

The Gabriel Project of West Virginia and local law enforcement are teaming up to help children and families in need Friday at Target at The Highlands.

This is the fourth year for the Gabriel Project’s “Stuff a Cruiser” event, and Northern Panhandle coordinator Faith Hicks says the program helps many people across the state.

“The Gabriel Project is an organization that works with families — specifically young moms and children — to provide them with necessities like diapers, car seats and formula,” she said.

Donations of those items will be accepted outside Target from 5:30-7 p.m. for distribution to families in Ohio County through Saint James Lutheran Church, according to Hicks. Law enforcement officers that will be present during the event will include Ohio County Sheriff Tom Howard, Chief Deputy John Schultz, and Deputies John Haglock and G.J. Costello.

“This will be my fourth year being involved and we have had great success with it. It’s been a big part of the community and a lot goes into it,” Haglock said.

Wheeling Jesuit University students will be collecting monetary donations at the event, and certified officers will train parents on properly securing their children in car seats.

LuLaRoe representatives will also be present that evening and they will donate a portion of their profits to the project. TJ Maxx is also involved in the event.

“The community has been great. They are going into the stores and purchasing things for this that are not just $2. … They are purchasing things that they would buy for their own family,” Haglock said.

There are a number of items needed, especially hygiene products and formula. According to Hicks, formula is one of the more expensive items, but also one of the most necessary.

The deputies said that whenever children are involved, they always want to help.

“Anything that has to do with young families, kids or the community, thats a no brainer to me. … every single school has some degree of need,” Schultz said.

Gabriel Project board member and event chair Ashlie Costello stresses that the families she helps are always welcome.

“We don’t want them to ever feel like they are coming for a handout. … They are coming to shop,” she said.

Howard said his favorite part of the event is being there for children and their families.

“I enjoy seeing the glow on the kids faces and helping these parents out that are having a hard time. I’m big on kids and we have to take care of our youth,” he said.