LIMA — The rest of the year, feel free to believe in coincidences. Marva Cowan won’t, but you go ahead. The rest of the year. All year long, but especially at this time of year, Cowan believes things happen for a reason.
Working at Lima Allen Council on Community Affairs, Cowan witnesses those well-timed happenings, especially at this time of year, with the Sealed with Christmas Love program, which assists 100 of the agency’s client families. One of those families is having an extra special Christmas this year.
Earlier this year, Teresa Coleman began adopting a toddler who’s just turned 2. After she started the process, Coleman learned Daequan has two older siblings, Niekko, 6, and Doriann, 5. Even though Coleman and her husband, John Turntine, are senior citizens with grown children and grandchildren, they said, OK. Come and be a family with us. And this year, the children are having Christmas, something they’ve not experienced before, Early Head Start teacher Lakeisha Sigman said.
“You know, when most of us talk about a Christmas tree, kids right away talk about what’s going under that tree,” Sigman said. “But Daequan, he’s never had a tree before. I asked him about it, all he said was, ‘pretty.’”
Turntine’s eyes light up when he talks about the easy way the children hug, kiss and laugh. The children are filled with love and affection for each other and their new adoptive family, Coleman said.
“In the morning, they wake up filled with joy,” Coleman said. “Daequan wakes up the whole house every morning.”
Coleman and Turntine didn’t know it until a reporter spoiled the surprise Thursday, but they’re one of the 100 Sealed with Christmas families. This year those families receive presents from people in the community who adopt them; Rays gift cards sponsored by Husky Lima Refinery, Dominion and American Electric Power; and this year, a gift pack from the Lima plant employees of Procter & Gamble.
LACCA employees were brainstorming about how to help families stretch their budgets and someone thought about laundry. Cowan called P&G and the plant management told her she had called at the right time.
“They were just talking about doing something like that,” Cowan said. “In the past, they had a policy against such things. Well, that morning, they changed the policy. I don’t believe in coincidences. I’m a pretty spiritual person. I believe things happen for a reason.”
So, Thursday morning, Procter & Gamble employees gathered at LACCA and assembly line-style, filled 100 bags with Tide, fabric softener, a Tide stain remover pen and other laundry products. In addition, employees inserted a plastic baggie filled with Christmas chocolates, tied with a red ribbon. Just an extra treat, a small reminder that people care, Cowan said.
Many of the presents came from members of the local chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education. Dana Frost was at the Allen County Courthouse when Sigman’s mother, Beverly White, was hanging angel notes on the Christmas tree there. White is retired from LACCA and still helps with small projects, such as this.
“She kept putting the angels on the tree, and Frost kept taking them off,” Cowan said. “The ABATE Club ended up taking all the angels she had.”
The employees at LACCA think of one another like family, and think of their clients the same way.
“I really believe it takes a village to raise a child, and save a family,” Cowan said. “Showing love and caring to families is what it’s all about. God says to always be ready. If you’re ready, when something comes your way, you can step up to the plate.”