By Herb Meeker
News Report Staff
The childhood memories displayed at the starting point of Sunday’s St. Isidore Christmas Walk hit home with visitors.
During the rainy afternoon, the Immaculate Conception Parish Hall in Dieterich offered a warm refuge for people either starting on or ending their journey through the fundraiser. Some of the loaned items brought smiles and laughter from the visitors.
There were stuffed bears made from old blue jeans and a quilt. A blue-eyed, cuddly Humpty Dumpty was seated in a baby bed. It seemed to beg for a hug, but the organizers of the displays had placed “Do Not Touch” signs to ward off any overzealous huggers.
There were also baby buggies, high chairs, an old school desk with a folding wooden seat, a bassinette draped in baby blue with a family tree listing who had slept there. There were painted colored figures, including a girl and boy praying with their pets beside them.
Cookie Monster and Big Bird offered their laps as child chairs. And a pair of young sisters, Lexie and Carly Funneman, was in awe of a giant Teddy Bear.
There were also stacks of cookies and baked goods like a good grandmother would make to fill her cookie jar.
Everything at the Parish Hall was a reminder of healthy, joyful childhoods. That made sense because the Christmas Walk proceeds this year will help Crisis Nursery of Effingham County, an organization dedicated to help families in the county.
“We first heard about the Christmas Walk helping us in September. It’s amazing to see all the huge support we’ve had already and this is the cherry on top,” said Meghan Rewers, executive director of Crisis Nursery.
Crisis Nursery plans to open its doors at 924 N. Merchant in Effingham by next month. The facility will offer a safe space for children and families facing crisis during domestic violence incidents, parental stress, medical emergencies, job and school obligations and court-related matters.
“Our help can be as simple as allowing parents a break when they need it. We want to help however we can,” Rewers said.
The displays brought back some memories for Rewers, who was at a display for Crisis Nursery to offer information on its services.
“When I looked over there at the record player, I remembered I used to have a Fisher Price player,” Rewers said.
She hopes Crisis Nursery can offer solace to children by having a wide variety of donated toys. Play can be soothing activity when a family is facing problems.
“We want to have just about everything we can to offer to them when they’re with us,” she said.
The turnout and volunteer work for the Christmas Walk, which included stops at the Beehive Boutique and the homes of Matt and Candace Brummer and Chris and Tina Schmidt, illustrates the strong family networks in the Isidore Parish. But Rewers said not all families can fall back on a family network.
“A family support system can be a huge benefit. But it is hard when you don’t have it,” Rewers said. “So we’re here to strengthen families. I have an excellent staff and board of directors. We want to help.”