MAAC red barrels get redesign ahead of next Christmas season

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Sherry Tuohey, who heads MAAC’s Red Barrel program at Christmas, holds one of the newly designed barrels which will be distributed throughout the Medina community this holiday season.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 28 May 2020 at 1:51 pm

Sherry Tuohey applies decals at the Methodist Church at the Grove to one of the 40 MAAC Christmas barrels, which have been redesigned in preparation for the Christmas season.

MEDINA – The MAAC Red Barrels, which have been a tradition for decades in Medina, will greet the holiday season this year with a new look.

Sherry Tuohey, who has headed the Red Barrel program for two years, thought it was time to update them and decided this summer was a perfect time to address the idea.

The Red Barrels are how MAAC collects toys and gifts to give to less fortunate families at Christmas time. The program evolved out of a toy drive started about 40 years ago by the Medina Fire Department. Every year, several dozen red barrels are placed at businesses, churches and the library in Medina by local firefighters, who still volunteer to distribute and collect the barrels.

Tuohey had received comments last year about the appearance of the barrels and expected some came back empty because businesses didn’t want to display them.

She brought the problem up at a MAAC committee meeting, saying she thought the barrels should be updated.

“We had noticed we were getting fewer and fewer donations and decided a change might be warranted,” Tuohey said. “We envisioned the barrels with a picture that would catch the attention of the public and encourage them to donate.”

So she contacted Ken Daluisio at the Print Shop, who agreed to work with her. They contacted Renee Vicknair Lama, a Medina native and graphic designer, with whom Daluisio has worked. Lama now lives in Hilton, where she and her husband George run RG Lama Studios. Lama has designed promotional material for many Medina area businesses.

Lama designed a series of designs which feature inspirational sayings and children with their holiday gifts. Daluisio then printed them on large decals.

In the meantime, Tuohey singlehandedly carried all the barrels, up from the basement of the United Methodist Church at the Grove in Medina. Church secretary Bonnie Sutch was able to obtain some extra barrels, bringing their total number to 40 from the previous 36.

Tuohey scrubbed and sanded them and repaired holes and rough spots. Then Daluisio showed her how to apply the decals by measuring the middle point, folding it over and peeling back half of it, in a process called the “hitch technique.” Then after smoothing the first half down, she peeled off the backing on the second half and smoothed that down. The result is new-looking barrels which convey the Christmas spirit.

Tuohey expects there may be many more families in need of assistance this Christmas and she hopes the new-looking barrels will encourage everyone to donate a toy, gift or cash. Every item dropped in a red barrel stays in the area to meet the needs of Medina families, she said.

“Working with Ken and Renee was a wonderful experience, and MAAC is so thankful small business owners in Medina support our Christmas Box Program, by allowing us to display barrels in their establishment,” Tuohey said.

Daluisio said he was happy to give MAAC a deal on the cost to promote this very worthwhile program.

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