By John Johnston
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The Gifts We Share club started with a few students delivering a half-dozen holiday baskets to shut-ins. It's grown to be "a wonderful way to build the bridge between generations," Betti Hinton says.
Hinton is president of Families Forward, a school-based, family-centered agency that started the club in 1996 "to teach children the importance of volunteering in their community, and to make it a better place to live," she said.
Wish List recipients from the Families Forward's Gifts We Share Club visited senior citizens in Avondale last month. Shampayne Scott, 9, plays checkers with Edith King, 84, during the group's visit.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
The club's students, most of whom come from low-income families, attend Parham Elementary, Bond Hill Academy, Our Mother of Sorrows and Withrow University High School. Students and seniors stay in touch all year as pen pals. Some seniors visit the schools.
Each year club members must scrape together money to buy a few items to put in holiday baskets for elderly residents of their neighborhoods.
Given the students' limited funds, the baskets sometimes are sorely lacking.
This year the club has set a lofty goal: 100 holiday baskets. They'd like to include more practical items than in the past, such as a blanket and personal-hygiene items. They'll need bus transportation to deliver the baskets, mainly in Evanston, Bond Hill and Avondale.
"I like helping people out," said Jamar Avery, an eighth-grader at Bond Hill Academy, "and giving back to the community."
Johnnie Laury, who lives in Beechwood Home, a long-term care home in O'Bryonville, received a basket last year. "It was really a surprise. I said, 'Me?' I never had anybody bring me anything before."
This story is part of the 18th annual Wish List campaign, an annual project of The Cincinnati Enquirer that is administered by the United Way.
The newspaper profiles people in need and readers respond with donations. All the money goes to the needy.
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ENQUIRER'S WISH LIST
Students want 100 baskets for seniors