AKRON, Ohio - For Santa Claus, it is a big job traveling the entire world with a bag filled with Christmas toys and gifts and sometimes Santa needs help in making his rounds.
An Akron faith-based organization, Open M Ministries, steps in to help, especially when those on the receiving end of gifts are needy. In this way, parents don't have to explain why Santa may have missed some addresses in his swing around the globe.
Volunteers at Open M Ministries, which stands for Opportunities for Pole Everywhere in Need Ministry, were busy filling bags with toys and other gifts at its facility at 941 Princeton St., Akron. The gifts were for the children of families which were determined as needy by Akron Public Schools. As the families walked into Open M Ministries, their identifications were matched with bags of gifts made especially for them.
"We are just so thankful that we are able to help children understand the true meaning of Christmas and the spirit of giving," said Dottie Achmoody, CEO of Open M Ministries.
With the bags of toys and other gifts, each family received many pounds of food. The ministry is able to help because of the donations of many people. Once the families have identified the toys their children would want from Santa Claus, volunteers shop for those specific items.
"This year's been tougher than others," said Shannon Mayer Alexander who was at Open M with a child in her arms. "There is six of us in the family and my husband was just diagnosed with Huntington's Disease," she said. "It's just trying sometimes."
Throughout the day, families on the list received gifts, which included bicycles, dolls, and other toys. Many of the children who came with their parents looked with wide eyes as the volunteers helped get the gifts into the arms and cars of those in need.
Santa Claus is usually seen with a long white beard and a big red suit. Sometimes Santa looks like your neighbors helping others in need. That has always been the spirit of Christmas.