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Christmas Giveaway Brings Holiday to Hundreds in Wheeling

WHEELING — On Saturday, a couple of small children took their time selecting toys from various charity piles in the North Wheeling Community Dream Center. When they found something, they walked away quietly, avoiding attention, though seemingly ecstatic.

The Rev. Darrell Cummings of the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple said 658 people visited the community center for his church’s annual Christmas Basket Giveaway. The event served disadvantaged Upper Ohio Valley residents by providing food, clothes and holiday cheer.

Cummings said businesses and individuals made a strong effort to support the cause this year. He said the haul of donations was too large to fit inside the church’s basement, where the event used to be held.

Cummings acknowledged the large crowd of attendees. At one point, he said both of the two large common rooms which host the event were full of people, while a line outside the door stretched back about a block.

Unique to the Christmas giveaway is the toy room, which is jam packed with various colorful items.

Children went in and were able to select a few items of their choosing.

“A toy may not change your life, but it may inspire your life,” Cummings said. “It’s a way for these kids to know their community cares about them.”

Mary Velez, community outreach coordinator for the Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital, said staff members with her employer delivered three carloads of goods for the event.

Velez said she’s participated in the giveaway for a few years. She said it warms the heart to contribute to it.

“Parents have told me in the past that without this event, there wouldn’t be a Christmas for their kids,” she said.

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