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Donors made party success

Tom Woods and Eugene Brown ushered the children through a line Saturday, putting them on Santa’s lap and snapping a Polaroid photo.

Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Tom Woods and Eugene Brown ushered the children through a line Saturday, putting them on Santa’s lap and snapping a Polaroid photo.

Dozens of boxes of film lay piled up around Woods’s feet.

And 10 times as many children walked away smiling, clutching their free keepsake of Christmas 1999, and of the generosity of a community.

The two Sharon Baptist Church members were among hundreds of volunteers, businesses, officials and others who rallied this weekend in support of displaced Cabletron and Ironton Iron employees.

Like a Christmas miracle, everybody came together to spread Christmas cheer to the workers and their families who lost jobs this year, said Big Sandy Superstores chairman Robert Vanhoose, who came up with the idea.

"Everybody did a little bit and it all just happened," Vanhoose said. "I’ve never seen a party put together for 1,000 people with less stress."

Donors to the party included everybody from local bank representatives to anonymous givers, the entire list of whom could never be named, he said.

But the party was a success, and worth it, all because of them, Vanhoose said.

"Just seeing the kids’ reaction made it worthwhile," he added. "There were a lot of kids with big smiles."

The Rev. Steve Harvey of Sharon Baptist Church, which provided manpower for the party, agreed that hundreds of people need to be thanked for the event’s overwhelming success.

"But some of them we don’t even know," Harvey said. "People just walked in and handed me cash."

And others were quick to take out their checkbooks, too.

Firstar Bank in Ironton donated $1,000 to help make sure every child who attended the party Saturday had a gift under the tree.

The donor list will likely remain incomplete, Vanhoose and Harvey said.

But many of those helping include:

– Big Sandy Superstores, Atlantic Star Communications, which provided the entertainment, the City of Ironton and Ironton schools, which organized the party and volunteers, and the Huntington, W.Va., Mall, for gift certificates.

– Firstar Bank, for a $1,000 cash donation.

– Tipton’s, SpareTime Recreation, Unger’s Shoe Store, Glad Tidings book store and Golden Corrall, for gifts and certificates.

– Papa John’s and Stewart’s Hot Dogs, for free lunches.

Cash donors, in addition to Firstar Bank included: Liberty Federal, Desco Federal Credit Union, Lawrence Federal, First Federal, National City Bank, Joe Hurley Insurance, Printing Express, Guy’s Floor Covering, Craig Allen, Scherer Mountain Insurance, Carey’s Tire, Wolohan Lumber, Durasash, Gretchen Whitt, Jeff Delong, Ironton Physical Therapy, Dorothy Mayne, Lambert and McWhorter, Lew Robins, American General, Kline Appraisal, America Lube, Terry’s Glass, Discount Tire, Neal’s Auto, Vince’s East End, Staley’s Pharmacy, Tom Walden Insurance, Higgins Chevrolet, Bob Clyse, Gary Leach Insurance, Anderson and Anderson Attorneys, Collier and Collier Attorneys, Henthron Cleaners, Todd Physical Therapy, U-Haul, The Mustard Seed, Bragg’s Ashland Mart, Murdock Realty, Maureen Holtz, Sam’s Club, Dave McCown; Central Hardware, McCauley Furniture (the Webers), Iron City Hardware, Grapevine Design, Baloons and Gifts, Cynthia Webb, Jo Fraley, Tom Walden Insurance, Dow Chemical and Dr. Kevin Willis.

And that’s not including many other private individuals who gave privately and publicly, and the many anonymous cash donations, Harvey said.