GREENVILLE — Dave Knapp Ford this month has opted to partner with Operation Christmas Cheer-Darke County (OCCDC) this Christmas season, since Toys for Tots will not be serving the county this year.
“Please Help Dave Knapp Ford ‘Stuff the Trunks’,” said Kristina Knapp, who is in charge of marketing at the local auto dealership. “We are asking our community to join in this partnership with us to help give the children of Darke County a great Christmas.”
Yes, those wanting to donate toys and/or other gifts can bring them to Knapp’s on Wagner Avenue, so they can be placed in the trunks of vehicles in the showroom until they are distributed by Santa.
Operation Christmas Cheer- Darke County, which started in 2011 and has helped more than 395 children have a Christmas to remember, usually focuses on “needed” items for children newborn and up.
“We had done it for Toys for Tots,” Kristina said. “This is our first year as part of the OCCDC. We wanted to have a good Christmas for children.”
Those at Knapp learned about the OCCDC from Sales Manage Chris Heidenreich, who heard about the group through his wife, Lisa. “Here [at Dave Knapp] we were looking to help local people and I was talking to my wife, who knew these ladies and they came in and talked to use Now, we’re a drop-off point.”
“That project is run only by three women who are doing it all,” he said.
“And it grew from there,” said Kristina. “Dave Knapp Ford is asking for the fun items.”
A list has been provided by Dave Knapp for fun things to help make this Christmas special for children in the area. They include: Nail polish sets, make-up sets, toys that make noise, body wash/lotion sets, gloves and hat sets, decorative blankets/pillows, sports toys (basketball, football etc.), GameStop gift cards, baby dolls, arts and craft supplies, hair items, super hero items, Legos, tractors/trucks/cars etc., books, perfume, music, hygiene products, Axe Body Spray (boys) and board games.
“The list isn’t limited to just these items,” she said. “We will accept bikes and such.”
Knapp said the local police department helped to wrap all the gifts to ensure they’re ready for Santa Claus.
Families who are interested in this program, were asked to apply, she indicated.
“Our goal is to help Operation Christmas Cheer-Darke County be the best it came this year,” Kristina said. “Drop by and ‘Stuff the Trunks’ on the showroom floor at Dave Knapp’s. Deadline is Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. to ensure gifts are wrapped and ready for Santa!”
Dave Knapp Ford also has a drop-box outside the building for drop-offs after business hours.
Operation Christmas Cheer Darke County is a local project that was started in 2010 as noted before.
“We are headed into our fifth Christmas season and looking to help over 225 Darke County children have presents under their trees this Christmas,” said a spokesperson. “‘Elves’ from all over the country with ties to Darke County donate items off of a list that appears on the Facebook group ‘Operation Christmas Cheer Darke County’.”
Items are then shipped or dropped off at the local drop-off locations and stored until they are delivered to the adopted children. In 2011, 22 Darke County children were helped. In 2012, 62 children were helped. In 2013, 186 children were helped. In 2014, 287 children were helped.
“In 2015, we are looking to help 225,” the spokesperson said. “We still have children available to be adopted but recognize that not all people willing to participate using Facebook. If you are wanting a local project to donate to over Christmas, Operation Christmas Cheer can be reached by calling (937)5041555 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Operation Christmas Cheer is supported by local citizens, former citizens and local businesses. This project is 100 percent dependent on donations.
“Thank you to all the 2015 local businesses who have stepped up in big ways either as employee groups or the actual businesses themselves: Dave Knapp Ford Lincoln, Greenville Federal Bank, The Winery of Versailles, Family Health, The Heidenreich Family, Roots Hair Salon, Meckes & Associates, State of the Heart Hospice, Treaty City Industries, JT’S Brew & Grill, Shaffer Maintenance, Baughn Distributing, SRT Trucking, and Greenville Girls Softball Association,” said the spokesperson “Their generous donations along with Buckeye Buckaroos 4H Club, Horse and Rider 4H Club, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, and over 300 individual elves make this the largest Christmas operation in Darke County.”
According to the event organizer (who requested not to be identified) Operation Christmas Cheer started from a personal Facebook post in 2011 wanting to help one family in need with their Christmas.
“My in-box was filled within a day with six people explaining why they were facing a hardship,” the founder said. I found it incredibly hard to decide which family we would help. On the original post, there were several friends who thought it was a wonderful gesture to help others. After receiving the heartbreaking messages, I posted again that I was going to need help meeting the needs because I couldn’t say no to any of them, because each hardship was equally important. My friends stepped up and met the challenge.”
She went on, “There have been quite a few instances lately of our community showing just how incredibly selfless and generous it is. It’s amazing that this event can happen with relatively little fanfare. What started as simply one family wanting to do a little for others at Christmas has turned into one of the largest beacons of good our community has. It’s stories like these that let everyone know just how amazing the people are who we all call neighbors. I’m incredibly grateful to live in Darke County, where things like this go on as grassroots movements as simple, obvious ways we can all help one another.”
Linda Moody may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.