January 20, 2022

Giving Santa an assist

Yuner Gao/staff reporter

Salvation Army Maj. Misty Coffelt decorates an angel tree at the Salvation Army on Main Street in Cortland. Non-profit agendies are putting the wrapping and bows on last-minute efforts to help people around the holidays.

As Christmas approaches, Santa still pulls his weight with organizations. He’s calling in favors and outsourcing help to families and children in the greater Cortland area.

That’s why the United Presbyterian Church of Cortland plans a Christmas stocking give-away to children from 4 to 10 years old. Children can come to the 25 Church St. church from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

“We put together Christmas stockings for children and include some books, some candy, and other special things we thought that they would like,” said the Rev. David Johnson, pastor of United Presbyterian Church of Cortland.

The church bought the stockings, and tries to keep them very similar, so what’s inside remains a mystery, Johnson said.

United Presbyterian isn’t alone. Grace & Holy Spirit Church will distribute gifts to families on Sunday afternoon, too, said the Rev. Peter Williams, the church’s pastor. Come on by, he said: Wear a mask.
Loaves & Fishes, which operates at the church, will offer a Christmas turkey takeout dinner on Friday, and it will hand out food baskets for people who signed up.

“The Cortland Breakfast Rotary raised the money for the food. They buy food and we do food bags for the family to take home,” said Mike Shafer, treasurer of Loaves & Fishes.

Yuner Gao/staff reporter

Kim Hill, executive director of Loaves & Fishes, prepares meat for Christmas food baskets. Cortland agencies are putting the wrapping and bows on last-minute efforts to help people around the holidays.

Hundreds of gifts specially for children are ready in the church, just waiting to be given away from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday.

“We asked our guests to sign up if they have children who would like to get gifts, like how old or boy or girl. So we give appropriate gifts to them,” Shafer said, and laughed. “This place will be full of people on Friday afternoon.”

The Salvation Army also has gifts for the children, right under the Christmas tree, a decorated angel tree to be shared Wednesday.

“We will provide food bags, toys and clothing for each of their children,” said Capt. Rebecca March. “We are serving around 500 children this year, and about 227 families.”

“The ultimate goal of the annual distribution is that these are the gifts from their parents to them because parents don’t have the money to buy them gifts for Christmas,” said Maj. Misty Coffelt. “So the goal is that the gifts are from their parents.”