When kids see a new toy, they usually can’t wait to get ahold of it for themselves.
But 6-year-old Sophia DuSablon’s eyes lit up for a different reason Wednesday night, even though she was surrounded by boxes of new toys.
“This one is going to a little boy named Daniel,” she said. “He’s just 1 (year old).”
With great care, Sophia wrapped the Little People truck in brightly colored Christmas tree-themed wrapping paper, making sure to cut the paper just the right length and secure it with plenty of tape.
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“There. It’s perfect, and I did it all by myself,” she said.
Excitedly, she reached for the next gift to wrap — a makeup set for a young girl.
Sophia and her family, including her sisters, Bianca, 4, and Caroline, 2, and 2-month-old brother, A.J., joined other volunteers Wednesday at the Shops at Seymour to begin preparing for this year’s Sertoma Christmas Miracle.
“They get so excited. This is their favorite part of Christmas,” said their father, Mat DuSablon of Seymour. “Sophia has been asking me ever since Thanksgiving when we were coming to wrap presents.”
For more than 40 years, Sertoma Club of Jackson County’s Christmas Miracle project has provided toys to children of low-income families at Christmastime.
Sertoma member John Fox, chairman of the project, said the club currently has received applications for 489 children in 201 households in Jackson County.
The number is less than last year, Fox said. He attributes that to a better employment rate in the county.
“We think more people are working and doing better,” he said. “And that’s a good thing.”
But he expects to receive more applications before Saturday’s deadline. Fox has been involved with Christmas Miracle for around 20 years, he said.
Donations of money or new toys can be made through Dec. 24 or even later. Whatever isn’t used this year will be kept and used next year.
“It always seems to work out,” Fox said of concerns there won’t be enough money to purchase toys. “Our donations continue to be good.”
Each child receives a main toy they have requested through Sertoma’s Angel Trees and an extra gift. The average cost of each toy is around $35, Fox said.
Angel Trees are set up at the Jackson County Public Library, Shoe Sensation, NStylz Hair Design and Jackson County Visitor Center in Seymour and the Brownstown Chamber of Commerce. Anyone is welcome to choose one of the angels, buy the gift listed and return it to the Angel Tree location.
There also are private Angel Trees at various local businesses where employees “adopt” the angels and purchase the requested toys.
Fox said he never worries too much about Christmas Miracle because of people’s generosity.
“I think the community wants to see all kids have a good Christmas,” he said.
Sophia has been a part of the Christmas Miracle her whole life, Mat DuSablon said. Last year, she even got to help deliver presents for the first time to less-fortunate families in Jackson County on Christmas Eve morning.
“I liked doing that,” she said. “I get to go again this year.”
Although her sisters and brother are too young to go on deliveries, they still help their dad; mom, Vanessa; and grandma, Patricia “Mimi” DuSablon, sort and wrap toys each year. The family also purchases and donates toys to the cause.
“We have A.J. in training,” Mat said while holding his infant son.
The annual Sertoma Christmas Miracle wrapping party is conducted to kick off preparations for delivering the presents Dec. 24. Sertoma members and volunteer groups from the community spend the week leading up to Christmas making sure all requests are filled and presents are wrapped.
For the second year, the Christmas Miracle Headquarters is located in two empty suites at the Shops at Seymour on the city’s far east side. Cobra Properties donates the space to Sertoma, providing room for volunteers to sort, store and wrap gifts. Boxes are donated by Rose Acre Farms.
Volunteers, including 4-H groups, church youth groups and school-sponsored groups, have signed up to help wrap presents. And for many families, it’s a Christmas tradition.
Dr. Mike Kilpatrick and his wife, Ingrid, said they enjoy coming to wrap because it’s something they can do together and they know it’s helping provide joy to less-fortunate kids in the community.
“It’s just really rewarding,” Mike said. “I enjoy the opportunity to help, and when you go to these places, they are always so grateful and appreciative.”
Ingrid said seeing the children’s smiles and faces light up is the best gift.
Things wouldn’t be the same for Fox and his family if they didn’t help with Christmas Miracle, he said.
“It doesn’t seem like Christmas without this effort,” he said.
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Sertoma Club of Jackson County’s Christmas Miracle Angel Trees can be found at five locations.
They are at the Jackson County Public Library, Jackson County Visitor Center, NStylz Hair Design and Shoe Sensation in Seymour and the Brownstown Chamber of Commerce in Brownstown.
There also is a donation box at Exist Salon and Spa in Seymour. The donation box is for filler gifts, which are small gifts like Matchbox toys, gloves, mittens, small blankets, etc. that are included with the items given to children who might otherwise have no Christmas.
Gifts that are purchased are to be dropped off at Christmas Miracle Headquarters at the Shops at Seymour, 357 Tanger Blvd., Suite 311.
Donations to the Christmas Miracle effort also can be dropped off at the headquarters or mailed to Jackson County Sertoma, P.O. Box 841, Seymour, IN 47274.
The headquarters is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Applications, which are due Saturday, are available at the Jackson County Health Department, WIC office, Seymour City Hall, Jackson County Department of Child Services, all branches of the Jackson County Public Library, all participating agencies of the Jackson County United Way and several local churches.
Applications also are available at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department (during business hours) in Brownstown and at Bundy Brothers in Medora.
Applications are to be completed and mailed to Jackson County Sertoma, P.O. Box 841, Seymour, IN 47274, or can be brought to the headquarters.