PAINESVILLE, Ohio — The panic of trying to provide for your family during a pandemic is amplified with the arrival of the holidays. However, with a little compassion and community spirit the season is now a little less scary for hundreds of families in Lake County.
Children's bicycles, boxes of food for a hearty holiday meal — they're the material items loaded into hundreds of vehicles Wednesday.
But it's what you couldn't see that may just be the greatest gift of all.
“In dismal times, in times of chaos and uncertainty, you can still be hopeful about the future," said Major Alma Riley, Salvation Army Painesville.
This year, the Salvation Army of Painesville is providing much needed hope and holiday cheer for more than 600 families.
"We've been in a very financial tight spot," said Eric Nerone, drive-thru participant. "We've been playing catch up for pretty much the last year and falling behind on hard times."
The generosity of people in Northeast Ohio not only helped buy the meals and gifts for Christmas morning, volunteers like David Dalton showed up to ensure every donation makes it to those in need.
"I know it’s been very rough for a lot of people. It’s a great feeling to be able to help people," said Dalton. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is just that is when everyone comes together and they’re doing their own part you can make something really spectacular happen."
That magic from making a difference is helping relight a holiday spark that stress might have dimmed.
"Kind of makes it a little more merry — and nice to know there are kind people who are out there willing to help out strangers," said Nerone.
The feeling the Salvation Army of Painesville hoped everyone took with them as they drove away.
"All is not lost. You may be struggling, it may be difficult times, we’re here to help,” said Riley.