Sharing the holiday spirit

STEUBENVILLE – Decked out with holiday decorations and Christmas trees, Urban Mission Ministries offices at 301 N. Fifth St. are beginning to look a lot like Christmas .

And the mission is feeling like the spirit of Christmas, too, as area residents, organizations and others reach out to make the season a brighter one for needy families, agrees the Rev. Ashley Steele, its executive director.

But “elves” with giving hearts are needed to pull off several campaigns, including providing gifts through the Christmas Kids Adopt A Child program.

Individuals, service organizations, churches and others are invited to contact the mission at (740) 282-8010 or stop in to request the name of a child up to age 12 for whom to purchase Christmas gifts. Each name bears a “wish list” of suggestions for presents which need returned to the mission, wrapped or unwrapped, by Dec. 4 at the very latest, Steele said.

“We have 58 (children) who still need sponsors,” Steele said, noting the names of 428 children already have been adopted.

In addition to the Christmas Kids program, a mitten tree bearing donations of gloves, hats, scarves, mittens and underwear provides parents the opportunity to choose items from it for their children when they come to the mission for the Christmas gifts.

Donations of these items also need returned by Dec. 2, according to Steele.

Other ways the community can help include:

Operation Teen Stockings: Stockings or gift bags filled with a variety of toiletry items are given to teenagers as Christmas gifts. “We need 200 stockings,” Steele said.

Items suggested to fill them include shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrush, lotion, body wash, combs, hairbrushes, gum, candy, makeup, perfume, jewelry and aftershave. Gift cards to fast food restaurants also are another possibility.

The stockings or gift bags, which work better for filling, need brought to the mission by Dec. 2.

Christmas food distribution: Steele said the monthly food distribution for this holiday meal is every bit as big as the Thanksgiving one, which is providing 1,300 families with food. Nonperishable goods or financial donations always are welcomed.

Santa’s Recycle Shop: Linda Smith, program director, explained this is for families who didn’t make the registration deadline for assistance at any local agencies, including the mission. It provides the toiletry-item stockings for teenagers and also new and gently used toys for children up to age 12. The distribution for this is Dec. 17-18 when parents are invited to select three items for a child.

Donations of the new or gently used toys can be brought to the mission or the nearby warehouse at 311 N. Sixth St., by Dec. 11.

The donations of toys are sorted and organized by volunteers, according to Smith, who pointed out that a gently used toy “to someone else is a new toy.”

How the Christmas season plays out at the mission, thanks to the generosity of area residents, is “testimony to how God is at work in the community,” Steele said.

For information, contact the mission at (740) 282-8010.

(Kiaski can be contacted at