More than 600 kids receive gifts from Sertoma Christmas Miracle

Do you want to know what the best feeling in the world is for John Fox on Christmas Eve morning?

When he turns around from the table at the front of Suite 211 at Shops at Seymour and doesn’t see anymore boxes of gifts that need to be delivered for Sertoma Christmas Miracle.

By 8:30 a.m. Saturday, all of the boxes were gone, picked up by volunteers from around Jackson County to be delivered to homes.

That’s amazing considering this year, there were 240 households with 614 kids benefiting from the Sertoma Club of Jackson County’s annual Christmastime project.

“All of the volunteers, we couldn’t do it without them,” his wife, Pam Fox, said.

With temperatures in single digits and snow- and ice-covered roads, John, who is co-chairman of Sertoma Christmas Miracle, wasn’t sure how many volunteers would show up. But they came out in force to ensure kids could have a good Christmas and everyone could spend the rest of their Christmas Eve with family.

“We used to get done at 4 and 6 p.m. when it was just Sertoma doing it,” club member Dan Davis said. “I would be all over Crothersville, Vernon (Township) in the morning and Pershing and Salt Creek (townships) at night.”

For many years now, the club has received a lot of help from the community, including individuals, couples, families, fire departments, the sheriff’s posse and more.

The Pershing Township Volunteer Fire Department has helped in recent years deliver to Freetown, Norman, Kurtz and Houston, and they were there again Saturday morning.

“We’re tickled to death that they are doing it again this year,” John said.

Members of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Posse load boxes into vehicles early in the morning and then go out to eat for breakfast before making their way around the county delivering gifts.

Vice President Ryan Begley, who also is the other co-chairman of Sertoma Christmas Miracle, said the posse has been helping with the effort for 30-plus years. This was his 21st year being part of it.

“It has kind of become a tradition for all of us,” Begley said. “When both of my kids were little, they were right here with me. It’s just something we’ve always done.”

Posse President Roger Freeman said he has helped deliver for Sertoma for nearly 20 years.

“When you open up the door and kids see you handing them presents, some of them, you just can’t replace (the look on) their face,” he said. “A lot of times, the grandparents that can’t afford to buy their grandkids gifts, they’ll put their name in and they’ll give those gifts. Even grandparents you’ve seen cry because they got something to give for their grandkids that’s on a fixed income.”

Lisa Murphy, secretary/treasurer of the posse, said she has been part of the effort for 16 years. Her father was on the posse years ago, so he had helped, too.

“It’s just the little kids that don’t have anything. I’m sure there are some of them, this is all they get,” she said of what she likes about helping.

Throughout the year, Freeman said he will keep Christmas Miracle in mind when he talks to people who are struggling for various reasons. He will encourage them to fill out an application.

“A couple we’re delivering to this year didn’t know about it. I told them. They were having a rough year,” he said.

The posse is a volunteer group with about 20 members. Besides Christmas Miracle, their other annual activities include handling parking lots at the Jackson County Fair in Brownstown and The Haunting in Columbus, running a shuttle during Seymour Oktoberfest, helping with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department’s Easter egg hunt and assisting with large animal rescues and finding missing people.

“We’re always looking for new (members),” Freeman said.

It means a lot to the group to have an opportunity to help with everything it does, especially Christmas Miracle.

“We’ve had members that haven’t done anything all year because of their job or whatever, and they’ll show up for this,” Freeman said. “We had some that this is all they ever did was deliver. Their jobs are seven days a week, but this is one thing you usually can depend on most members showing up.”

John Fox said the numbers this year were similar to last year when 255 households with 605 kids benefited from Christmas Miracle.

“Years ago, we were over 800 (kids), and it seemed to me like we had 440-some boxes,” he said. “If we’ve got big unemployment numbers in the county, our numbers are going to go up.”

Again this year, he was grateful to have a lot of help from the community in taking angels off of the Angel Trees and bringing gifts to the Christmas Miracle Headquarters to be wrapped and also people volunteering to wrap.

“Very, very well,” he said in summing up the effort. “We had more wrapping groups than ever that wanted to help, and contributions were fine, the Angel Trees did well. Basically, it just went very well.”

There were even a few families who have received gifts from Christmas Miracle over the years turn the table this year and drop off items.

“One of them was a large family we delivered to for years,” he said. “They are showing up bringing us stuff. It’s just great.”

As boxes were carried out of the headquarters Saturday morning, club member Matt Lorenzo placed blankets in each box thanks to Trinity Lutheran High School and Immanuel Lutheran School, both in Seymour, combining to collect 737 blankets. Fox said some of those were given to sheriff’s department officers to put in their patrol cars to give to people who need them.

It was another year for Sertoma Christmas Miracle to warm the hearts of all, from club members to the gift recipients to the volunteers who help with the effort. For Fox, that’s another good feeling.

Jennifer Regruth, left, and her son, Casey Regruth, place boxes of gifts onto a cart to take to their vehicle to deliver Saturday morning for Sertoma Christmas Miracle.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Laura Adkins, left, and her son, Lucas Adkins, help with Sertoma Christmas Miracle delivery Saturday morning.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Pam Fox, left, helps Mackenzie Trinkle with picking out boxes of gifts to deliver Saturday morning for Sertoma Christmas Miracle.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Matt Lorenzo, right, a member of the Sertoma Club of Jackson County, places blankets in boxes of gifts that Claire Schepman and Madaline Schepman helped deliver Saturday morning for Sertoma Christmas Miracle.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Phenix Jones places a box of gifts on a cart to take to a vehicle to deliver Saturday morning for Sertoma Christmas Miracle.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

From left, Mackenzie Trinkle, Brooke Trinkle, Hunter Heckman and Mike Trinkle took time out of their Christmas Eve morning to deliver gifts for Sertoma Christmas Miracle.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Pam Fox, left, helps Jennifer Regruth and her son, Casey Regruth, with picking out boxes of gifts to deliver Saturday morning for Sertoma Christmas Miracle.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune

Bicycles, toys, clothing, books and more are delivered to kids across Jackson County through the Sertoma Christmas Miracle.

Zach Spicer | The Tribune