Union workers from United Steel Workers Local 498 at Smurfit Stone Container Corporation in Blue Ash recently held their annual toy and food drive. Their generous donations during the past month filled a large drum to over-flowing, but when the group didn’t receive any requests from union members for help they had to look for other places to donate the goods.
“I was told to check with Grace and Mercy Outreach in Amelia,” said Dave Kilgore, vice president of the union. “I knew exactly where they were located because they are practically in my back yard. I have donated to them before.”
The timing was perfect according to Grace and Mercy owners, Vicki and Rick McCarty.
The annual event offers children an opportunity to choose gifts to give to their parents and siblings. The parents are sent to the soup kitchen at the back of the store to wait while their children, accompanied by Boy Scouts and Daisy Scouts, go on a shopping spree.
"We have never had so much new stuff for the kids to choose from," said Vicki McCarty. "The donations this year have been wonderful and this donation today is really needed."
The outreach has been partnering with six schools in the area to get the names of those who desperately need help.
"The people in the community have done this," said Rick McCarty. "I've never seen anything like this and in this economy, it is amazing."
The McCarty's said that until just recently they wondered how they were going to be able to meet all the needs.
"God is answering prayers," said Rick McCarty. "Not just my prayers but the prayers of all those children who want to get their moms and dads and brothers and sisters something for Christmas. The prayers of those parents who just don't have the money to buy anything, but want their children to have some gifts. I truly believe that God is bringing all these things here in answer to those prayers."
In addition to the Santa Shop, the parents were invited to come on Dec. 21 to pick out gifts for their children and to receive bags of food.
"We should have more than enough for all of them and others who may need help also," said Rick McCarty. "We have never had so much food to give away. I just want it all to be distributed before Christmas."
Rick McCarty said that he will be standing on the curb in front of Grace and Mercy on Christmas Eve along with any toys which are left.
"When a parent drives by who is desperately wondering what they are going to do to provide something for their children, I'll be there giving away toys and sharing the love of God with each one," said Rick McCarty. "After all, God loves each one of us. It makes no difference to Him if we are the ones giving the gift or the ones receiving it."
Grace and Mercy Outreach is located 17 West Main Street in Amelia. They have a thrift store which is open 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Their food pantry is open 1 - 3 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. They serve food in the soup kitchen at noon, Tuesday and Thursday and have a free clothing give-a-way 1 - 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
For more information, call (513) 753-1555.