Looking down from the balcony of the coliseum at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Kevin Crowley, executive director of People In Need, smiled at the work of volunteers.
“It’s going to go like clockwork because of the 100s and 100s of hours of volunteers,” Crowley said Sunday.
The efforts of those volunteers helped to relieve the burdens of local families for the holidays.
Over the months and weeks leading up to Sunday volunteers with People in Need of Delaware put in countless hours preparing for the annual Holiday Clearing House event that provides gifts and food to families, seniors and home-bound residents for the holidays.
Crowley said he had student volunteers from every high school in Delaware County. As Crowley pointed to a bunch of older gentlemen he said, “Over there is an over-60 softball team that is helping out today.”
“I came in for 4 hours each day,” said Tisha Peyton, who started volunteering for the event 17 years ago when she was in high school.
“Volunteers will come into work a two-hour shift,” Crowley said. “That way I have fresh people all day.”
Crowley was approached by Lisa Clark, whom he calls his “head elf.” Crowley said this was her first year to experience the event.
“I’m learning a little about a lot,” Clark said. “I’m trying to soak it all up.”
Crowley said families who came through during the seven hours Sunday were given an appointment and a number so they could remain anonymous.
The great effort is greatly appreciated by those who receive help from People In Need.
A mother of three children, asking to remain anonymous, said her mother-in-law suggested she sign up for the event this year. “She knows we always struggle this time of year. It’s our first year,” she said.
As people waited for their turn they sat comfortably and snacked on cookies and warm beverages.
Crowley said he wants to make sure that everyone is treated with dignity from the first family through the line to the last.
“The last group that comes in at 4 o’ clock,” Crowley said, “I wanted them to have the same choice of toys as the first group that went through.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.