BY MARIA KACIK
A classic Christmas song says the holiday season is â€œthe most wonderful time of the year,â€ but thatâ€™s not true for many during periods of economic strife.
To help, the Medina County business community is trying to spread cheer with fundraisers and collection drives that aim to give to those in need during the holiday season.
Many local business owners interviewed said as leaders in the community they believe itâ€™s their duty to help others. Thus, many are offering what they can to help those less fortunate, be it employee time, professional services or discounts on products.
Columbus resident Janet Graycraft, who works seasonally at Lodi Station Outlets in Harrisville Township, decorates the â€œangel treeâ€ Tuesday in the food court. The Salvation Army has provided information on needy children throughout Medina and Wayne counties on the ornaments. Shoppers can pick an angel, purchase a gift and drop it off at the mallâ€™s offices. (Andrew Dolph | Staff Photographer)
â€œI feel very blessed to be able to do what I do,â€ said Sherry Brown, owner of Heartstrings Photography in Medina Township. Her business will host a Pictures with Santa event next month to raise money for the Salvation Armyâ€™s Adopt a Family program. â€œI absolutely love my job and I want to give back to my community.â€
This year, some business owners said, is a very important year to focus on giving.
â€œWith this demand on the economy, we thought people need help,â€ said Chuck Johnston, manager of A Better Truck Cap and Hitch in Medina County. The store is running a food drive for local pantries.
â€œThe food banks need help. We thought that not only is the giving down, but the amount of food they are giving away is up.â€
But itâ€™s not just the less fortunate who benefit from these events. Main Street CafÃ© in Medina brings in volunteers for its annual free Thanksgiving dinner for the needy. Gary Quesada, owner and chef of the restaurant, explained the same volunteers come back year after year.
â€œA lot of the people who volunteer are single or they might be away from their families on the holidays. It really gives them a sense of belonging,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s almost equal on both sides â€” the people receiving dinner and the people volunteering. Itâ€™s something you wouldnâ€™t expect.â€
Jani Davis, director of community investment at Westfield Insurance in Westfield Center, said many departments work as a team to participate in the companyâ€™s three donation drives. â€œIt really brings them together,â€ she said.
She said on Monday the company put up a tree decorated with ornaments that designated gifts to buy for local needy children. Employees were asked to take the ornaments and buy the gifts listed on the ornament. Within 24 hours, she said, the tree was bare.
Here is a list of what some local businesses are doing to give back to the community this season:
— A Better Truck Cap and Hitch is sponsoring a food drive at its three locations throughout Northeast Ohio, including 1543 Medina Road, Granger Township. Customers who participate will receive a 1 percent discount on their next purchase for each item they bring in, up to 15 items. The event will run between Friday, Nov. 28, and Saturday, Dec 6. In addition, the business will host a Pictures with Santa event Saturday, Dec. 6, from 1 to 3 p.m.
— Employees at Allen & Hartzell insurance, 148 Main St., Wadsworth, is scheduling the volunteer shifts for the Salvation Armyâ€™s Red Kettle campaign in Wadsworth. Those interested in volunteering can contact Elaine Cowart or Julie Piazza at 330-335-2521.
— Elmcroft Assisted Living and Memory Care at 1046 N. Jefferson St. in Medina is sponsoring a food drive for the Medina County Food Bank. Non-perishable food items can be dropped off at Elmcroft.
— Heartstrings Photography, 4463 Weymouth Road, Medina Township, is hosting a Pictures with Santa event on Sunday, Dec. 7, from 1 to 4 p.m. For $10, parents can receive a 5-by-7-inch print of their children with Santa. Proceeds will benefit the Medina Adopt a Family program.
— All locations of Howard Hanna Smythe Cramer will be sponsoring an event to benefit the Childrenâ€™s Free Care Fund that helps support health care for children whose families cannot afford it. Proceeds from the events in Medina County will benefit childrenâ€™s hospitals throughout Northeast Ohio. Each of the events will feature a company-wide car raffle for a 2009 Mini Cooper.
The Wadsworth Howard Hanna Smythe Cramer office will have a luncheon on Monday, Dec. 8, at Wadsworth High School, 625 Broad St., from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will feature a silent auction and a 50-50 raffle. Items to be raffled include AirTran Airlines tickets, Erie Island resort tickets and more than 100 gift baskets. Entertainment will be provided by the high school. Tickets can be purchased prior to the event at the office or at the door. For information or to register, contact Hillary Sloane-Brown at 330-335-2560.
The Medina Howard Hanna Smythe Cramer office will have a pasta luncheon Monday, Dec 8. To be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Weymouth Country Club, 3964 Weymouth Road, Medina Township, the event will feature a silent auction, 50-50 raffle, bake sale and a visit with Santa Claus. A $5 donation is requested at the door. Cloverleaf High Schoolâ€™s Swing Choir will provide entertainment. For information or to register, call Jill Dwyer at 330-590-0380.
The Brunswick Howard Hanna Smythe Cramer office will have a wine and cheese party Wednesday, Dec. 3, between 5 and 8 p.m. The event will feature a silent auction, Chinese raffle and wine, cheese and appetizers. A $5 donation is requested at the door. For information or to register, call Donna Henry or Karen Tittel at 330-225-1077.
— Lodi Station Outlets on Avon Lake Road near Interstate 71 in Harrisville Township has put up an â€œangel treeâ€ in the outlet mallâ€™s food court. The Salvation Army has provided information on needy children throughout Medina and Wayne counties. Shoppers can take an ornament off the tree that has a wish list from a child. The shoppers then bring the gifts, unwrapped, to the mallâ€™s offices.
— Main Street CafÃ©, 17 Public Square, Medina, will host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for people in need for the 18th year in a row. Dinner will be served between 1 and 4 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
— Seventeen stores throughout the Medina historic district are collecting toys for the Medina Salvation Army. Some stores will provide small gifts to those who donate new and unused toys for the drive.
— MSL Realty, 123 Broad St., Wadsworth, is collecting new and unused pajamas and books for the Pajama Program, which will give the items to women and children in need.
— Sugargrove Tree Farm in Ashland is participating in the Trees for Troops program. Between Friday, Dec. 5, and Sunday, Dec. 7, customers can come in and purchase a Christmas tree for $25 that will be delivered to a military family in the United States. In addition, $5 of that money will be donated to the Christmas SPIRIT foundation. Those who cannot go to the farm in person can send a check for $25 to Sugar Grove Tree Farm, 1619 Township Road 1455, Ashland, 44805.
— Westfield Insurance in Westfield Center sponsors an employee adopt-a-family program in collaboration with Medina and Wayne countiesâ€™ job and family services departments. Job and family services gives Westfield lists of what needy families in the area need. Employees then donate accordingly. The company also runs an employee coat drive that benefits Cleveland-based charities and a toy drive the benefits the Akron/Canton chapter of the Good Works Project. In addition, Westfield links its offices throughout 28 states with nonprofit organizations in their respective areas that need assistance.
— Yours Truly Restaurantsâ€™ eight locations throughout Northeast Ohio are collecting for Toys for Tots through Tuesday, Dec 23. Cash donations also are accepted. Santa Claus will pay a visit to the Medina Township location at 3735 Medina Road on Monday, Dec. 15, between 6 and 8 p.m.
Construction has begun on the new Summa Health Center on state Route 18 on the border between Medina and Montville townships.
Summa, which teamed up with Medina County-based Northeast Ohio Medical Service Organization for this project, broke ground on Nov. 17.
The 100,000-square-foot facility will be situated on 10 acres, with 20 additional acres left for future development. The health center will offer comprehensive outpatient services, a physician medical office building and an ambulatory surgery center. It also will offer radiology, mammography, CAT scan, MRI, ultrasound and bone density testing, physical and occupational therapy and lab services.
Julie Uehara Sur, spokesperson for Summa Health System, said: â€œPart of the reason they decided to go to this area is Medina continues to be one of Northeast Ohioâ€™s fastest-growing regions. We decided this area to be part of how to meet health care needs of the region.â€
The facility is expected to open in spring 2010.
Kacik may be reached at 330-721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.