40 red barrels set up in Medina for annual holiday drive

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 3 November 2022 at 6:43 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Medina firefighters line up by the MAAC red Christmas barrels before delivering them throughout Medina on Wednesday morning. From left are Lt. Jacob Crooks, Lt. Steve Cooley, firefighters Andrew Cheverie, Paul Urquhart, Fire Chief Matt Jackson, and firefighters Chris Seefeldt and Bailey Schubmehl.

MEDINA – The Medina Area Association of Churches’ annual Christmas Red Barrel drive is underway.

Wednesday morning, the Medina Fire Department showed up at the Grove United Methodist Church with two ambulances and a pickup truck to deliver the 40 barrels to stores, libraries, schools, medical offices, restaurants and churches in the Medina area.

Next, it is up to the community to show their support by filling those barrels with toys and gift items for all ages, including games, puzzles, books, arts and crafts, stuffed animals, hats, scarves, mittens and socks.

Gifts are always needed for teenage boys and girls, and no gift cards are given out.

Medina Fire Chief Matt Jackson loads a barrel into an ambulance for delivery to start the MAAC Christmas Barrel Program. The barrels will in local stores and organizations through Dec. 7.

MAAC asks that no food items be put in the barrels, as food for needy families is supplied by the food pantries.

Sherry Tuohey heads the Christmas Barrel Program, and said without the support of the community, the fire department and volunteers, it wouldn’t be a success.

The cooperation between the Medina Fire Department and MAAC has been ongoing for an estimated 40 years, starting back when the firefighters used to collect toys and distribute them. Then they joined with MAAC and the program continues to grow.

Families must sign up in advance for assistance during the second and third weeks of November. Applications for holiday food boxes and gifts can be made from 10 a.m. to noon and t to 7 p.m. Nov. 8 and 15 at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1355 West Ave., Medina;  and from 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 10 and 17  at Calvary Tabernacle Assembly of God, 11031 Maple Ridge Rd., Medina.

Applicants must show proof of household, proof of residence and proof of income. Income guidelines or more information is available at MAAC’s Thrift Store, 536 Orient St. or by calling Tuohey at (585) 356-8346 or (585) 798-6657 and leaving a message.

In addition to Tuohey and the firefighters, others who help the program be successful are Kathie McMoil, who takes care of personal care donations and puts together personal care bags; Medina High School students (under the leadership of High School Student Association adviser Sara Cinquino) who donate the personal care items; Norma Jean Foster, who takes care of the food for each box; Barb Vreeland, who oversees donations of hats, mittens, scarves and socks; and Marilyn Hiwiller, who delivers mitten trees to local establishments.

For several years now, Lyndonville resident Bob Harrold scours the countryside all year, looking for little red wagons, which he restores and donates to the MAAC Christmas program. The wagons are not only loved by the children, but are appreciated by families who don’t have transportation and use them to give their children a ride to the store or to carry their groceries home.

This year, Harrold donated five like-new wagons to MAAC. Tuohey said she researches the families who might find the wagons most useful, and is careful not to give one to a family who already got one last year.

Tuohey expects an estimated 75 families, representing 200 children, will be applying for help from the Red Barrel Program. In addition to gifts for each child up to 18 years of age, applicants will receive a ham, boxed potatoes, stuffing, vegetable, brownie mix, canned fruit and cereal.

Eligible families must reside in the Medina Central School District with the Medina and Knowlesville zip codes.

To be sure every family had information about the program, Tuohey said she distributed 800 flyers to all the areas schools (through sixth grade), including nursery schools and the Orleans County Christian School.