Every year volunteers with local churches and organizations make Christmas come alive for Waynedale residents. And for many volunteers, their service to the community is their holiday tradition.
Organizations like the Waynedale Community Improvement Team and local churches provide our community with events that have been and will be Christmas traditions for years to come.
Beulah Matczak is the Vice President of the Waynedale Community Improvement Team that hosts Christmas in Waynedale - a free event that has served 500 people in years past. "This has become a tradition," says Matczak, herself a volunteer.
"I just love to see the kids and parents together," Matczak commented about the annual Christmas in Waynedale that offers children a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus along with other friends from the North Pole. Previous years have offered trolly rides and character drawings.
"We have 33 sponsors and over 20 individual volunteers for this event," remarks Matczak. "People don't realize what wonderful businesses and organizations are in the Waynedale area that give back to the community. We have volunteers from the local credit union come out and help."
Christmas in Waynedale will be held Saturday, December 14, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Maplewood Elementary School. The community improvement team is also hosting a Christmas tree lighting at the Southwest Conservation Club, 5703 Bluffton Road, on Friday evening, December 6 at 6:00 p.m.
Local churches are the life and breath of the Christmas season. Volunteers pour hours into Christmas concerts as their gift to the community. Calvary United Methodist and The Chapel are no different.
The Chapel, at 2505 West Hamilton Road, has been offering a Christmas concert open to the community for eighteen years.
"It takes over two hundred volunteers every year to make our concert possible," says concert director, Cathy Hawks. "We have school teachers, a bank president, stay at home moms, engineers and business owners who all give their time as a gift to the community every Christmas."
Christmas at The Chapel is a concert held over two weekends during what would be the church's regular service hours. This year, free concerts will be held Saturday, December 7, at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 8, at 8:30, 9:45 and 11:00 am. The second half will be held the following Saturday and Sunday, December 14 and 15, during the same hours.
There will be a live 40-piece orchestra as well as live animals, including a camel. New technology is being added this year as well as new songs and sets. "We will offer nursery and Sunday School classes for children, but many older children love coming and watching as well," says Becca Graf, director of Children's Ministries at The Chapel.
"Performing in this concert has become a Christmas tradition for all who are involved. We see the same people come back year after year offering to help build sets, make costumes or play their instruments," says Hawks. "We always welcome new help and love how many new faces show up to decorate or give their time in so many other ways."
Since 1985, Calvary United Methodist Church, at 6301 Winchester Road, is known for their Live Nativity. Every Christmas Eve, Waynedale residents are gifted with a beautiful Live Nativity outside of the church. For the past two years the Nativity has not been on display, but church member, Pat White, took the initiative to bring it back to the community. "We are going to see if we can revive it," says White.
Word had spread that many people in Waynedale missed the tradition. White would tell congregation members about reviving the Nativity, "All you have to do is step up and say you'll do it!" That is when she told herself, "Maybe I just need to do it!"
It will take dozens of volunteers to make the Live Nativity possible. "It's like our pastor has been preaching, we each have different gifts. Maybe one's gift isn't to lead but it is to build or cook," says White as she describes the variety of volunteers needed for the Live Nativity. Volunteers help with technology, ironing costumes, acting and preparing warm meals for those involved on the night of the display. "We always get help when we ask for it," says White. "There is a certain nucleus of people who always step up to volunteer."
"It makes Christmas special when you are involved in something like this," says White. This is White's first year heading up the Live Nativity, though she and her husband remember its longstanding tradition in the community. "It's those kind of things that make Christmas, Christmas."
This year, The Live Nativity will be on display December 22 and 23 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. and December 24 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. with a Christmas Eve service afterward. "We will bring it inside at the beginning of our service and reconstruct it at the front of the church," describes White. Luminaries will be put out to light up the driveway to the Nativity and Christmas music will be playing as visitors drive by. There will be three scenes to see with live actors. "I'm so confident it will go well," says White.
If you are looking for a way to begin a Christmas tradition of giving and volunteering, the Community Harvest Food Bank is always looking for help and donations. Executive Director, Jane Avery encourages the community to get involved during the holidays. "If you eat it for the holidays somebody else does too" she says regarding what people can donate. "I don't think people understand how important their help is."
If you are looking to help, contact Tammy at the Community Harvest Food Bank at 447-3696. Financial donations are the most expedient way to provide help. Food drives are a great way to get children involved and any food donations to the food bank or volunteer help is more than welcome.
"The Waynedale community, they are so supportive of us. Our neighbors who are close are wonderful. No matter how much we thank them, it is never enough," says Avery. "We need lots of help. Last year we used 7001 different volunteers." These volunteers contributed the same number of hours as thirty full-time employees.
"Waynedale is good for people volunteering," explains Matczak of the Waynedale Community Improvement Team. "The people here really give back to the community."
As White says, "everybody has a little volunteer in them." Waynedale residents have proved that to the community through their volunteering efforts this holiday season.