Perkins unites in cheer

PERKINS TWP. Rain didn't stop the Perkins community from setting the Ohio Veterans Home ablaze with
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Rain didn't stop the Perkins community from setting the Ohio Veterans Home ablaze with holiday cheer.

Battling the dreary conditions and lack of parking spaces, community volunteers gathered Wednesday morning to string lights, set up displays and boost the spirits of those who've served our country.

"It's really great what they did today," said former resident and visiting veteran Andrew Kellen, 67. "I drive an hour every Christmas to see the lights. They always do a real good job."

PerkinsUnited, a group created under the school district's strategic plan, coordinated the massive volunteer effort, which was designed to foster communication between the schools and the community,

OVH officials reported more than 300 of the 400 anticipated volunteers, young and old, participated despite the weather.

Very few volunteers were intimidated by the downpour. Once their vehicles pulled into the lot, they hopped out armed with ponchos and umbrellas.

"Who cares about a little rain," Perkins resident Kathy Saunders said.

"We owe it to these men to put the effort in making the holiday a little brighter."

Saunders' son Gavin, 5, wore a Santa hat and ran for cover in his mother's van, where he stayed while she braved the rain.

Event coordinator was Bea Van Meter, a retired Perkins art teacher who planned various indoor and outdoor workshops and activities during the four-hour decorating period.

"This is going to be really big," Perkins interim superintendent Dennis Rectenwald said. "We're really excited."

Teamwork allowed volunteers to work in the buildings and pavilion or on patios to set up massive holiday displays, string lights on trees and arrange signs.

"This can't be smart in the rain," Kayla Smith, 15, said as she picked up lights from a box. "We're going to hang this stuff in the rain?"

The dreary weather only made the workers work harder. They ran inside to get warm and then came back outside to finish.

"It really didn't feel like work," Jim Allen, 57, said. "I could think of a million things worse to do in the rain or out of the rain."

Those working indoors donned bright red Santa hats while painting various boxes to look like Christmas presents.

Volunteer and veterans alike were invited to participate in the "Peace on Earth" performance with the brass ensemble and Perkins band.

"There's bound to be tears," Kellen said. "People out there need to realize just how much a hello, a merry Christmas or a happy new year can mean to someone. For some of us, the community is the only family we got."