Special Santa: Making Christmas Merry For Chillicothe Kids

A record number of children in the Chillicothe area will enjoy a merry Christmas this year thanks to the generosity and hard work of the Chillicothe Jaycees and a small army of local businesses and community members. The Jaycees’ Special Santa Project will provide gifts for over 1,200 kids this year, ensuring that these kids have a reason to smile on Christmas morning.

Our Ross County Banking Center has actively supported Special Santa for several years and is proud to do so again in 2015.

Ryan Adams is the Branch Manager at our Ross County Banking Center on Western Avenue and serves as External Vice President for the Chillicothe Jaycees. “This is our biggest year ever,” Adams explained. “There are well over 1,200 kids in the program so far. We always expect an increase from year to year but the growth has been much more than expected this year.”

Devoted to community development and improvement, the Jaycees is a civic organization for men and women ages 21-41. The group is one of the area’s oldest civic organizations, serving the Chillicothe/Ross County community since 1932.

Jaycees members are given the opportunity to develop professional skills through community service while bettering the community through events and projects. Adams said the Jaycees raise thousands of dollars every year to fund a number of projects. In addition to Special Santa, they sponsor events including an enormous Easter Egg Hunt and Movies in the Park. They also partner with the Lion’s Club to host an annual Halloween Parade.

The Jaycees own and operate the Jaycees Public Golf Course on Pleasant Valley Road where they hold events like golf tournaments and even Junior Golf Clinics that are free to local kids.

“We do a lot of neat things. Much of what we do is based in partnerships with groups like the Lions and with local businesses,” Adams said.

Special Santa though is their most popular and most needed event. Adams explained that there is an application process where parents of children newborn to 12 years of age can submit their child’s wish list. Paper ornaments, donated by Printex, are displayed in local businesses and include the child’s first name, age, sex and six items they want for Christmas. While the Jaycees do much of the buying, people who want to help can claim a tag, shop for the requested gifts and return them to the Jaycees.

The Chillicothe-Ross Public Library assists with the application process and permits the Jaycees to use the old Central School, behind the library for this popular holiday operation.

“Special Santa was established in 2000 to help buy toys for kids. I don’t like to say needy kids because anyone can fall on hard times. The loss of a job, illness, there are a lot of reasons why someone may not be able to afford gifts for their kids this year,” Adams lamented.

He called the need in the community “overwhelming” as he described the number of applications and the types of gifts some kids request. “It’s kind of overwhelming when you think about it. I don’t think people really understand the severity of need in this community. And then to have a child request a warm coat, hat, mittens, shoes, underwear instead of a toy – it’s overwhelming.”

Adams credits the community for embracing Special Santa and all the fundraising that goes on to make it happen. “It is amazing to have this kind of community support. This is possible because we have a community of people and businesses that buy into the program and that want to contribute, want to jump on board and make it work,” Adams said.

There is still time become involved if you want to help. To learn more, email specialsanta@chillicothejaycees.org or call 567-703-6305. The Chillicothe Jaycees is also always looking for new members. Learn more about the organization and how you can become involved at their website.

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