“OHgo’s Project Happy is Christmas presents for kids in need,” said volunteer Nicole Withrow, of Norwalk, who brought the concept to Huron County. “It’s an organized effort to collect Christmas gifts that will stay right here in the community.”
In Huron County this year, the drop-off locations for gift boxes are: Sheri's Coffee House, the Huron County Sheriff's Office, Buckeye Express Car Wash, CLI workshop, Kenilee Lanes, the Willard Police Department and Fawcett Tax & Accounting in New London. Brochures with further details are available at each location.
At Buckeye Express Car Wash, “for every box brought in, they are offering a free platinum car wash,” Faulkner said.
The gift boxes should be about the size of a shoe box or a clear, plastic tote. Suggested enclosures include: Toys, dolls, yo-yos, LEGOs, Play-Doh, hygiene products, flashlights, snacks and food treats.
“Hats and gloves are good things to add,” Withrow said.
Project Happy is part of OHgo, a volunteer-based, community outreach non-profit organization that started in Erie County. Christine Boesch, of of Sandusky, and Kendra Faulkner, of Huron, co-founded OHgo in 2015.
Last year, the gift boxes went to about 1,200 children in Huron County and about 1,800 in Erie County. Withrow said the goal this year is “to at least meet last year’s donations, if not exceed them.” Faulkner added the numbers from Huron County were “awesome,” especially since 2017 was the first year that Project Happy was introduced there.
Delivery day is Dec. 23. To register as a volunteer, go to ohgoreach.org.
“We are looking for volunteers. We can only cover so much ground. … Anybody can volunteer,” Withrow said. “We go to neighborhoods throughout the county and we go door to door.”
Nearly 75 volunteers helped deliver gift boxes last year in Huron County.
The Edison High School varsity girls’ basketball team raised about $1,200 for Project Happy during an alumni game. The seniors invited all the alumni to the event.
“We are really excited about it,” said Faulkner, who appreciates the initiative the students showed. “With that money, we were able to put together 80-plus gift boxes, which I think is really awesome.
“They had put it together themselves. We had no idea they were doing it.”
School counselor Elisa Brown said there was “an amazing turnout” for the Nov. 23 game.
“We are so proud of their efforts and amazed by the number of boxes they are adding to the cause. They are awesome girls,” she added.
‘Awesome partners’ with CLI
CLI has partnered with OHgo the last year.
“Christie Lane has come along with OHgo in this (Project Happy) effort. They are letting us use their facility for storage and packing of the gifts. They are out spreading the word in the community,” Withrow said.
Calling CLI “an awesome partner,” Faulkner said “we are really, really excited about this partnership.”
CLI volunteers have helped OHgo this past year with its mobile food pantry in Erie County once a month.
OHgo has been doing more than just Project Happy in Huron County. Faulkner said the group organized a free farmer’s market in August and October at the Bouscay Avenue apartment complex in Norwalk, where a truck brought in nearly 10,000 pounds of produce.
“(CLI) equipped us with all the volunteers,” she added. “We work with Second Harvest Food Bank.
“In October, we served 330 individuals,” Faulkner said, and 415 people during the August farmer’s market.