SPENCERVILLE — Starlenia Thompson, a bright-eyed five-year-old girl from Delphos, was grinning from ear-to-ear as she opened her presents at the 40th annual Christmas Party for Underprivileged Children at the Spencerville VFW on Sunday.
She and her five other siblings were among the dozens of children who benefitted from the party, organized by the clown unit at the VFW.
“It’s the best feeling in the world, just watching her face as she opens gifts and having the community help out,” said her father Matt Thompson.
This was the first time for Kathy Kahle to sponsor a child.
“It’s awesome, it’s what Christmas is all about,” said Kahle.
A solid core of volunteers is making sure the event keeps going.
“We do this every year where we do the underprivileged Christmas party for the kids in the area. We call and get sponsors and then we match them up,” said Sandy Wienken. “We have Santa Claus come and give them toys, candy and things like this. It’s a feeling that you’ll never outlive. It’s a very uplifting, great time.”
George Cox helped start the party 40 years ago as a way to help kids that might not have a Christmas otherwise.
“I had to do something special,” said Cox. “I was aware of children not having anything for Christmas. We started it with the old Allen Acres Children’s Home over in Lima. We asked people to call us and sponsor children and it was just tremendous. Allen Acres had like 35 children and I had many more sponsors so then we started going elsewhere (to help more children).”
Now they go through the Salvation Army to identify needy children.
“We average 150 (children a year) and we’ve taken care of more than 5,600 children (since the beginning),” said Cox.
This year they helped 111 children. “This is the least we’ve ever had,” said Cox.
Cox, who is 86 years old, received a Jefferson Award in 2009 for his efforts in organizing this party throughout the years.
“Every year I think this might be the last one and all the people show up, with wonderful love,” said Cox.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.