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She's making sure Hancock's children have merry Christmas

December 19, 2005|By TARA REILLY

HANCOCK

Editor's Note: This is the fifth story in a 10-part series about people who make this holiday season brighter for others. The series concludes Christmas Eve.

tarar@herald-mail.com

Rita Holohan is a year-round Christmas shopper.

She's usually on the lookout for gloves, hats, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm and toys, especially if they're on sale.

Holohan buys the items for Hancock-area children, who receive them during a Christmas party at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Hancock.

"I try to get something they can use, as well as something they can play with," Holohan said.

The party is part of the Greater Hancock Council of Churches' Christmas for Others program.

The party this year was Dec. 10.

While the party is open to 4- to 9-year-olds, the council also collects food and monetary donations for families to be distributed through the Christmas for Others program. Money collected goes toward purchasing items and food for eligible families and children.

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Families also receive $40 gift certificates to purchase clothes for children, Holohan said.

The program is open to those who live in the Hancock area and meet income guidelines.

Holohan, who attends St. Peter's, said she's been involved with the Christmas for Others program since 1982 and has chaired it since 1984.

"It gives you the Christmas spirit," Holohan said. "I think our adults enjoy it as much as the kids do."

The program's mission statement is to reach out "with the love of Jesus Christ to provide food, clothing, toys and Christian literature to those less fortunate in our community."

The program served 41 families and 34 singles or senior citizens in 2004.

Holohan said she spends many hours organizing the annual event, packing gift bags or decorating the hall at St. Peter's to prepare for the party.

She used to dress in a Santa outfit, but she no longer has the costume.

Holohan said she credits other volunteers, whom she referred to as her "angel assistants," for their part in Christmas for Others.

"They're all the feathers in my wings," Holohan said.




Tuesday: Mickey Johnson of Charles Town, W.Va.

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