Good News of Christmas families receive gifts

Dustin Hall, promotions manager for The Quincy Herald-Whig, loads a box of gifts from the Good News of Christmas campaign into a waiting vehicle Thursday morning outside the Quincy Mall. (H-W Photo/Phil Carlson)
Posted: Dec. 12, 2012 9:32 pm Updated: Dec. 26, 2012 10:15 pm
Nathan Daly of Quincy joins other volunteers loading boxes of presents for the Good News of Christmas campaign Wednesday at the Quincy Mall Community Room. (H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

And now, it was Meghan's turn to be on the receiving end.

Meghan, not her real name, represented one of the 47 families that saw their Christmas become a little merrier Thursday morning.

Meghan, a single mom who has a young son, has been a community volunteer for four years. But this time around, Meghan was the one being helped, thanks to The Herald-Whig's 24th annual Good News of Christmas campaign.

"I ... feel so blessed, and I appreciate it," said Meghan who was on hand at Good News headquarters bright and early today to receive her and her son's gifts. "I work, and I have my own place, but ... "

But things are tough, and there was no extra money for the holidays.

"(These gifts) are just so wonderful," she said. "I just wish everyone a Merry Christmas."

Those families being assisted in the immediate Quincy area picked up their gifts early today, while families in the rural areas of West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri received their Merry Christmas via Good News delivery trucks.

Today was also a big day for campaign volunteers, who have worked in recent weeks collecting and preparing the gifts for distribution.

For Brenda Ryan, being a part of Good News of Christmas campaign is more important than simply giving back to the community as a volunteer.

"I've been doing this for 15 years," she said. "I started helping after my dad died. Christmas was very important to him."

Each of the Good News volunteers has a reason for helping. For Brenda, the passing of her father, Raymond Wolter of Knox City, Mo., spurred her and husband, Patrick, to help others at the time of year that was so dear to her late father. They drive from LaGrange, Mo., virtually every night leading up to the dispersal of the gifts, assisting in any way they can.

"I plan on continuing," Brenda said about her holiday plans of the future.

Ryan and other volunteers finished boxing and wrapping gifts on Wednesday night, then helped pack the Good News trucks.

Tom Van Ness, who coordinates the campaign, said there is still a need for donations to complete the purchase of some of the big-ticket items for families in need.

"There are cases where three children are sleeping in one bed -- that is not acceptable," he said. "We need a bed for each child."

Van Ness estimates between $5,000 and $6,000 is still needed to complete purchases. Those wishing to help may contact Dustin Hall at The Herald-Whig at (217) 221-3303.

"We still need to buy a lot of the basic essentials for these families," Van Ness said.

Van Ness estimates $55,000 has been spent on this year's campaign.

"And that's $55,000 that has gone back into the local economy," he said.

Ray Johnson is another of those volunteers who has a story. He normally helps coordinate picking up all of the bicycles that are needed for gifts, and with his wife, Donna, enjoys helping wrap presents.

The Johnsons moved back to the area six years ago and immediately wanted to become involved with the Good News campaign. They felt a calling.

"We were simply following he lead of others," he said.




Bicycles are lined up, ready to roll, as volunteers prepare to pack trucks for delivery. (Photo/Tom Van Ness)


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