Cumberland Times-News

Letters

December 22, 2012

Before Toys for Happiness, there was ... .

Noted columnist and broadcaster, Paul Harvey, shared many inspiring stories by relating little known facts behind the headlines.

Most local residents are familiar with the efforts of the Toys for Happiness campaign which has served thousands of local children for more than 30 years.

But very few folks are aware of a series of events that frame the historical context of this important community service program.

The story began on a cold, blustery day two weeks before Christmas in 1979. A local home-based Head Start teacher, Ms. Janet, was concluding her weekly lesson for Maryanne’s 3 preschool children.

As she prepared to depart, Ms Janet inquired “Do you have your shopping done yet, Maryanne?”

Maryanne, a small, quiet unassuming woman, paused and then replied softly, ”I didn’t shop for Christmas this year. We gave our list to the Lord.”

Ms. Janet listened intently as Maryanne explained: “Well, the children understand that we don’t have much money for Christmas, but I asked each of them to share three Christmas wishes. I wrote them down, and we prayed that if it was God’s will, the gifts would be provided and after we prayed, we placed the list in our Bible.”

Ms. Janet was overcome with emotion as she pondered Maryanne’s response. Janet realized that if she had not prompted the question about shopping, Maryanne would never have revealed such a private prayer request.

When Janet returned to the Head Start Center, she related the incident to her colleagues.

The image of a mom surrounded by three small children praying over a Christmas wish list tucked quietly into the family Bible, brought tears to everyone’s eyes. But staff members realized that Maryanne’s situation was not unique.

Many local families were facing a sparse holiday due to limited financial resources. Phone calls and requests were promptly issued to various local family service agencies.

Under the direction of Mrs. Grace Fleming, the local Red Cross responded to the call for assistance. Mrs. Fleming organized a toy drive by contacting local merchants. Within days, the response was so great that more than 50 other Head Start children were provided with toys and gifts.

Upon learning of a mother’s quiet, humble act of faith, the congregation of a local church offered a monetary donation specifically for Maryanne’s family.

And so, the day before Christmas, Ms. Janet made a special visit to Maryanne’s home. “Get that list out of your Bible” Janet insisted. “We’re going shopping!”

Grace Fleming continued to coordinate the Red Cross toy drive until the Toys for Happiness project assumed responsibility for this annual campaign.

Special recognition is extended to: Ms. Janet (Janet Knetzer) for bringing awareness to an unmet need; to Mrs. Grace Fleming for initiating a program to meet that need; and to Toys for Happiness volunteers for continuing this important community service.

“Maryanne,”thank you for reminding us that, indeed, Christmas is a season of genuine faith and abiding hope.

And now …you, too, know … “the rest of the story.”

Victoria Thornton

Cumberland

1
Text Only
Letters
  • Support the March for Babies May 3 at Canal Place

    At the March of Dimes, we promise to work tirelessly toward the day when all babies are born healthy.
    The March of Dimes has worked for more than 75 years to help babies get a healthy start in life.

    April 20, 2014

  • Celebrate Earth Day every day: Reduce, reuse and recycle

    April 1 marked the beginning of April Envi- ronmental Education Month in Maryland — and with Earth Day coming up on April 22, Maryland has much to celebrate.

    April 20, 2014

  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • Which approach to the school makes sense?

    What exactly is the long-range plan, according to the Allegany County Commissioners?
    I’ve read in the Cumberland Times-News that the current County Commissioners intend to spend $9 million to construct a new high school.

    April 16, 2014

  • H.O.G. Rally coming to Cumberland in June

    Let me introduce myself. My name is Francine Kraft and I am the Maryland/Delaware State H.O.G. Rally Coordinator for 2014.
    With a team of seven others, we have put together a rally for June 19-22 to be held in Cumberland.

    April 16, 2014

  • Access to trout ponds hard for those who have trouble walking

    I took my 5-year-old grandson Easton, who lives in Cumberland, to the Evitts Creek three ponds on March 31, the day it was stocked with trout.He had the joy and excitement of catching his first trout and two more. I have a Maryland fishing license and trout stamp.

    April 16, 2014

  • Wait long enough; they will die off without being cared for

    The letter to the editor of April 14 (“Military veterans have few friends in Washington, D.C.”),  I am afraid, hit the nail on the head — sort of — about this next set of returning veterans.

    April 16, 2014

Latest news
Facebook
Must Read
House Ads