Christmas came a few days early for 370 children in the Cleveland area on Saturday at Share Your Christmas, an annual event organized by the non-profit’s founder, Dinah Cochran, and a small army of volunteers. In its 29th year, Share Your Christmas provides assistance to families by providing Christmas presents for children through age 13.
The coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the loss of jobs, caused this year’s numbers to jump to 370 from 275 in years past.
“We have families who are struggling to keep food on the table and they can’t afford Christmas presents for their children,” Cochran said.
Donations were a little harder to come by this year, Cochran added, but she managed with the help of Hart’s RV and Boat Storage, Martin Chrysler-Dodge, MTC-Cleveland Correctional Center, The Spot and 253rd State District Judge Chap Cain, among others. Some gave financial donations while others sponsored groups of children. Cochran said she also receives financial help from family members and friends.
The families are vetted to ensure there is a real need for assistance. Then Cochran tries to provide at least some of the items on each child’s wish list. She spends about three months leading up to the toy giveaway buying toys and clothing, looking for special deals to spread the dollars even further. Every year, the toy giveaway includes a limited number of bicycles. Other children receive bags of wrapped toys and goodies. The organization also provides some free clothing and shoes to those in need.
Cleveland ISD helps out by providing a space for the toy giveaway – Douglas Gym – and a Cleveland ISD police officer for security.
Cochran is hopeful that next year will see a decline in requests, a signal that the economy is bouncing back from strains caused by the pandemic.
“Keep your head up and trust in God. He will open the doors for us all. We will make it through this. I hope everyone has a merry Christmas and a happy new year,” she said.