Event spreads Christmas cheer to people in need

Posted: 7:00 PM EST Dec 23, 2012   Updated: 6:21 PM EST Dec 26, 2013

For most of us, Christmas is a time for family, friends and gifts, but for thousands, it can be a struggle just to feed their kids. 

One event in Lehigh County is marking 20 years of giving those families some holiday hope.

For Doris Rosa, Christmas dinner happens the day before Christmas, and it happens in a conference room at a Holiday Inn off Interstate 78 in Fogelsville.

"This is, like, something of a tradition for the kids," she said.

This is the annual "Spirit of the Lehigh Valley" event, a chance for kids to pick up some toys and for their families to get some piece of mind -- if just for the day.

"I'm pretty much a single parent of seven, so any little bit helps me," said Tammy Poff of Easton.  "I don't have a car.  I actually was homeless this year."

Those in need also get household necessities like detergent and light bulbs, as well as a a hot meal.  Thirty-five social service agencies bus people in from across the Lehigh Valley.

"We're now in our 20th annual event," said event chairman Brad Mickley, who noted that the crowd has doubled in the last decade alone. "Mainly because the problem has gotten worse. With the downturn in the economy the last few years, we've definitely seen our numbers rise."

Laura Denithorne brought her two sons to volunteer.

"They were surprised at how many people were here," she said.  "They didn't think there was going to be this many people that needed a little extra help."

It's exactly the lesson she wanted her kids to get.

"I'm going to start being more appreciative," said her son Mason, "because I see these people, and they really appreciate what they get."

If you are in need, you can register for next year's program through most social services agencies, including the Salvation Army and the Allentown Rescue Mission.

If you'd like to donate, contact the Holiday Inn in Fogelsville at 610-391-1000.  According to Mickley, people often donate toys for younger children but neglect gifts for older kids.