Medina churches complete Christmas box effort for 200 people

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 23 December 2020 at 4:52 pm

Photos contributed: Volunteers who worked to pack food and gift boxes for more than 60 families posed for a picture at The Grove United Methodist Church in Medina on Saturday. From left are chairwoman of the MAAC Red Barrels, Sherry Tuohey, Bev Woodward, Robin Dubai, Judy Holbrook, Barb Vreeland, Kathy McMoil, Ruth Cleveland, Diane Mazur and Denny Dubai. The number of volunteers was limited because of Covid restrictions.

MEDINA – Christmas came a little early to more than 60 families in the Medina area on Saturday.

It was the day local firefighters delivered food and gift boxes from MAAC’s Red Barrel program.

Sherry Tuohey, who heads the annual Christmas program, said the number of families who applied for holiday assistance this year was a little less than other years, yet they still provided Christmas boxes to more than 180 adults and children, as well as 19 senior citizens.

Volunteer Diane Mazur chooses gifts and packs a box for a family who was helped by MAAC’s Christmas Barrels. The barrels were delivered Saturday by local firefighters.

The boxes were delivered by firefighters from Medina, Ridgeway, Shelby and East Shelby, who also picked up the full barrels from local businesses and organizations.

Due to the Covid pandemic, Tuohey said it was a challenge this year to still be able to run the program and adhere to the restrictions in place.

“Everything had to be tweaked this year,” Tuohey said.

First, the barrels had to be picked up earlier than usual so they could quarantine for three days before volunteers started unpacking them. Then, when the barrels were sorted and the boxes packed, they had to quarantine for three days before firefighters could deliver them.

Also, there was a limit of 10 volunteers at a time at The Grove United Methodist Church, where the barrels were unloaded and boxes packed up. And, the church was unable to serve breakfast to the firefighters as a thank you. Instead, they gave each firefighter, and any family member who came with them, with breakfast in a bag.

“We tried to patronize local businesses in providing breakfast for the firefighters,” Tuohey said.

Sue Metzo checks the paperwork for the more than 60 boxes of food and gifts which were delivered to adults, children and seniors on Saturday, through the MAAC Red Barrel program. Metzo was in charge of the program for many years.

Cinnamon rolls came from Case-Nic Cookies, Papa Thom’s Rockin’ Bagels provided bagels and Della’s Chocolates made chocolate firemen’s badges and helmets. Little bottles of cider came from Roberts’ Farm Market and bottles of chocolate milk were purchased from Sure Fine in Albion. Gift cards from Tim Hortons and a candy cane completed the breakfast, which was put in festive red plaid bags.

Food for the gift boxes was purchased from Tops and Aldi’s, Tuohey said. Each family received, not only gifts for everyone, but food for a complete Christmas dinner. New this year was the addition of personal care items, an idea of Kathy McMoil, who gathered all the items and made up a bag for each gift box. The committee also included a roll of wrapping paper and Scotch tape this year.

Kristin McAdoo and her dad Don Marchner, members of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company, were among the firefighters who volunteered Saturday to deliver gift boxes to more than 60 families for MAAC’s Red Barrel program.

Lt. Steve Cooley of the Medina Fire Department coordinated efforts of the firefighters, who have volunteered their services for several decades. They start in November when they deliver the barrels to sites throughout the Medina area. This year 41 barrels were delivered, and Tuohey said many of them were overflowing when they were returned.

“We couldn’t do this without so many volunteers and the cooperation of the community,” Tuohey said. “We thank the businesses who allowed us to place barrels in their building and the individuals who knitted and crocheted hats, mittens and scarves.”

It may be a lot of work, but Tuohey said it is so rewarding.

“Some families have already reached out to thank us,” she said.

Lt. Jacob Crooks of the Medina Fire Department checks addresses on some boxes of gifts and food, which were delivered to families in Medina on Saturday.