Washington Park will be full of cheer this weekend with Santa, hot chocolate, coffee and trees chopped down in their prime, to bring happiness to families in the community.
The first Wishes for Christmas event will begin this Saturday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. at Washington Park on Eyman Park Drive in Washington Court House. Fraser Fir trees will be available for purchase and there will be a donation drive for cold-weather clothing and non-perishable food items that will be donated to local charities.
The non-profit event is the work of Stacy and Steve Reeves from Washington Court House. The couple owns another business, Big Cat Cycle, and they travel around the country for most of the year selling apparel and merchandise at motorcycle rallies.
“We always come home for the holidays. We were in Galveston, Texas, and I said, ‘I really want to do something while we’re home,’” said Stacy. From Texas the couple traveled to Gatlinburg, Tenn., where they set up at a flea market. They met a man who owned a tree farm and Stacy said that’s where they got the idea to do something positive for the Fayette County community.
“It’s called Wishes for Christmas and we’ve started it to help people in Fayette County who might be struggling through the holidays. We’re collecting coats, hats and gloves. That’s the things the girls at The Ranch need. We’re also doing canned foods and sweatshirts, and that will be for The Well and The Warehouse because teenage kids don’t want to wear coats — you know how that goes — and then the animal shelter, they’re in need of Pine Sol, wax melts (to help with the smell), soft dog treats, and toy ropes,” said Stacy. “We’re going to have donation boxes out here and we’re going to have Santa out here Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and we’re going to have some children’s characters.”
Stacy said the Miami Trace and Washington Court House City Schools show choirs will be at the park Saturday as well.
The trees are five to six feet and will cost $15 to $20.
“We want to keep it affordable for people to be able to get them. All profits go to the organizations. We’ll have hot chocolate and coffee, and cookies along with Santa,” said Stacy. “Any donations for the coffee and that kind of stuff is going to go help feed the vets. We got with the VWF Riders here in town and they do wonderful things for vet families, like building ramps and stuff, and they also pass out Christmas dinners.”
Joe Denen, Washington Court House City Manager, said, “I think it’s nice that citizens are willing to invest their time and effort to do a positive thing for the community,” said Denen.
At this time the city isn’t involved with planning or funding Wishes for Christmas, but Stacy said they would eventually like to have the city become involved.
“They have the bike path here and it would be beautiful lit up with the paper bags and the candles, and people could walk. Something that would draw people into Court House would be wonderful. We always have to go out of town to see everything and why not have something? It’s beautiful with the lights and it’s a beautiful park and they could really do something with it, eventually. That’s our hope,” said Stacy.
Denen said the city’s future involvement with Wishes for Christmas, if any, will be determined by how people in the community respond to the event.
“If it’s a positive thing for the community, I can’t help but think we’d be anything but positive and supportive,” said Denen.
At The Well at Sunnyside, director Chiquita Nash said they serve 80 to 100 families a week and are always in need of non-perishable food items.
“Although there are many organizations that help people, some of that is still not enough. Minimum wage is not enough to keep a family going and there’s a lot of hard working families where both parents work who still cannot make ends meet,” said Nash. “I think that is wonderful that they are stepping up to help their community. That is a wonderful thing to do.”
Nash said she thinks the park, which is located where the old city pool used to be, should be used for events like Wishes for Christmas.
“I think that’s an opportune spot for people to host events that benefit the public,” said Nash. And she said people should show support by the event “because anytime someone is willing to take their own personal time to help others, you should never down them. They are doing things that most people talk about but do not do.”
Reach Ashley at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton