Poconos Coal

Holiday fundraiser grants 9 families the Christmas of their dreams

Olsen Christmas Wish honors fallen officer.

VIDEO: Olsen Family Christmas Wish a...

STROUDSBURG, Pa. - Christmas came early for more than three dozen Monroe County children Thursday night.

Santa made a special, early delivery at the Lehigh Valley Hospital - Pocono, thanks to the volunteers behind The Olsen Christmas Wish fundraiser.

"Over the holiday season it's really important that we remember people that are in need," said Troy Serfass, one of the fundraiser volunteers.

The Olsen Christmas Wish was created to honor fallen police officer Joe Olsen and other officers who have passed away.

“He's looking down on us and he's just ecstatic," said Serfass.

Nine years later and the event continues to grow, serving 38 kids this year.

The families who received the gifts are all from different backgrounds with different stories, like the Voelkers whose 5-year-old son, Alex, was born with a rare liver disease.

He survived a liver transplant from his mother and also just recently beat cancer.

The Johnson family also received gifts this year.

Liz and Craig Johnson have five kids of their own, three biological and two adopted, plus they foster children in their home.

Their youngest son, 2-year-old Gabe, has a rare genetic disease and is blind with severe developmental delays.

"It's way more than we could have ever dreamed," said Craig Johnson.

The volunteers say their goal is to give these families who are facing some hardships the Christmas of their dreams. The generosity, left people like Kevin Alpaugh nearly speechless.

"It's very sweet what they do," said Alpaugh.

Alpaugh recently lost his wife, Judy, who was his high school sweetheart.  He's battling a rare form of blood cancer while raising their four children.

"The community is very strong around here," said Alpaugh.

The volunteers raise money for the gifts through fundraisers and a GoFundMe page.

Then, they come together at Rudy's Tavern to wrap the presents for the children, a tradition they say is the perfect way to honor Officer Olsen and others taken too soon.


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