Ho, Ho, Ho: Pennies from Heaven Delivers Christmas Presents at Zion Church
CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Wearing her traditional Santa hat, Renee Vowinckel loves playing chief elf at the annual Pennies from Heaven Christmas Gift program on Thursday morning aimed at working families in Clarion County who need a helping hand with Christmas presents.
Vowinckel said the event has grown each year since 1995 when they gave a shirt, a pair of jeans, and a toy.
It has grown, and the emphasis is now on providing something for the “working poor” that may not be served by other charities.
“This is mainly for the working class in Clarion County,” said Vowinckel. “If they are working and have a job and need help with presents for their kids, they can give us a call through Community Action, get registered, and they can shop here.”
“This year we have 265 kids signed up and registered and about 125 families which about the same as last year.”
This year’s totals would have been larger, but about 40 kids were rejected because they were already on other charity lists in Clarion County such as Charitable Deeds.
Vowinckel said Pennies had only so much money and wanted to concentrate their efforts on the working poor and avoid families who may be “double dipping.”
Gifts are extensive, including blankets, hats, mittens, gloves, eight articles of clothing of their choice, toys, games, stuffed animals, socks, underwear, hygiene items, detergent, wrapping paper, and tape.
“It’s an all-year project for Pennies from Heaven. We shop all year looking for things on sale and getting the best deals possible. I try to buy everything at a discount price, so it makes the money last longer.”
The event has been held at Zion Church in Clarion for nine years, and the church allows the organization to store the gifts throughout the year.
“We have great volunteers, and we go through the process parents coming to shop for their kids. We have volunteers from Taylor Diversion here, IU6, Abraxas boys and girls have been here along with about 50 other community people. We even have people out front to help you load your car.”
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