Medina churches, community will play Santa for nearly 100 families

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Volunteers will be busy this week sorting presents for families and senior citizens in the Medina Central School District.

In the top photo, Sue Metzo (left) and Sylvia Riviere are pictured inside the Medina United Methodist Church at the former Apple Grove Inn, which has become the headquarters for the annual present sorting. The two are members of the Medina Area Association of Churches.

Metzo is president of MAAC and Riviere is serving as chairwoman of the toy and gift initiative. MAAC for at least 30 years has coordinated gift donations from the community, matching those gifts with local families and senior citizens.

MAAC and Medina firefighters placed 29 barrels in the community at churches, businesses, schools and the library. On Monday, firefighters collected the barrels – some overflowing with gifts – and delivered hem to the church where the gifts were sorted by age group.

The number of families that signed up is down this year, from 149 in 2013 to 82 this year. Metzo said there will be extra gifts and then will be shared with Community Action, which manages a gift-giving program for central and eastern Orleans County.

MAAC starts signing up families in September for the toy drive. Families will receive gifts for each child at their age level, as well as a book, board game, puzzle and stuffed animal. Each family also receives a ham dinner, and socks, mittens, scarves and hats.

“A lot of the people are who we call the ‘Working Wounded,'” said Metzo, a member of the First Presbyterian Church. “They’re working they just aren’t making enough.”

Metzo said many of the recipients of the presents have their extra cash drained with unexpected medical bills, or furnace and car repairs.

The community comes through with the donations. Metzo said the generosity inspires the 30 core volunteers who will work this week sorting the gifts and preparing them for Saturday’s delivery. Firefighters from East Shelby, Medina, Ridgeway and Shelby will deliver the toys and gifts on Saturday morning.

“It’s overwhelming to see the contributions and the peoples’ giving,” said Gerry Grimes, the retired pastor at Faith Covenant Fellowship, one of 16 churches in the MAAC.

Chad Wirth, pastor at Faith Covenant Fellowship, arranges coloring and activity books.

Grimes was volunteering today in organizing the presents by age group. Faith Covenant filled a barrel and then some with presents.

Chad Wirth, the church’s new pastor, challenged the congregation to be generous with the MAAC toy campaign.

“Jesus Christ took care of the orphans and the widows, meeting their physical needs first,” Wirth said. “God is love, and one of the greatest ways to show love is to help people.”

In addition to the gifts for families, about 50 senior shut-ins will receive poinsettias and fruit baskets.

Metzo and Riviere thanked the community for contributing to the effort again this year.

“The people of Medina have supported this ministry for years,” Metzo said. “The people are awesome. We can’t thank them enough.”