MILLERSPORT – All of Millersport’s Christmases have been white for nearly 50 years.
The White Christmas program is a Millersport tradition since 1967, and it’s still going strong. “I still go back and deliver,” said former Millersport High School home economics teacher Barbara Clark, who’s been involved with the charity and appreciation program from its beginning.
Each year hundreds of dollars from donations are used to buy food (including hams and turkeys) and gifts to help some community families, and for fruit baskets to send holiday cheer to senior citizens. While the program is based at Millersport High School, it’s a product of the entire Millersport community. Elementary students bring in canned goods, town residents and the PTO contribute money, and the Millersport Lions Club and Millersport Fire Department help in any and every way possible.
Clark said Millersport High School students Cathy Lawrence Price and Carol Jeffers, who currently lives in Chicago, initially took the reins of the program. They created and sold chocolate buckeyes to raise money for families in need. Clark said they would carry an easy-bake oven to families in need’s homes as well, to prepare a proper meal. The next year, Clark said, the FHA took over White Christmas.
“And then it grew from there,” Clark said. The program added giving fruit baskets to Millersport senior citizens, not out of need, but as appreciation for all they’ve done for the community. Clark said money was raised through sponsoring pre-football game dinners.
Clark said the Millersport Lions Club became a valuable partner including donations of money and candy, and in 1995 the high school student council took over the program.
Today, Millersport High School principal Jeff Stought said White Christmas is stronger than ever. Last year, a total of 160 fruit baskets were delivered to seniors and 32 families received food and toys for Christmas.
“We can always use donations,” he said. Stought said there wouldn’t be gift cards available this year because the source is no longer active.
Stought said the biggest challenge is convincing senior citi zens the fruit baskets are delivered out of appreciation, not charity. “It’s a Merry Christmas and a thank you for everything they’ve done,” he said. “It is not a charitable thing.”
This year, White Christmas offerings will be distributed Thursday, Dec. 17. “We’ll be wrapping it up next Monday,” Stought said. He said students and volunteers would wrap donated gifts Tuesday evening after school.
“Everything is geared toward that Thursday morning,” Stought said. He said Lions Club members do the bulk of delivery driving. “There are a lot of groups involved,” Stought said, adding that both the student council and the honor society contribute a lot of time and energy to the cause.
Stought said donations of toys, food (including canned goods), or money are still welcome at Millersport High School or the district office. Please make checks payable to Walnut Township Schools and designate if the money is to be used toward toys, food, or both, and in what amount.
This year, the Millersport Volunteer Firefighters Association have formally aligned their annual Toy Drive, now in its 14th year, with White Christmas. Monetary and new toy donations can be dropped off 24/7 at the Fairfield Beach and Millersport fire stations.