Christmas House Looking Ahead To 2011 (And Beyond)

Potter County Today

Another holiday season is rapidly wrapping up at Christmas House, the private, non-profit charitable institution that helps to meet the needs of the disadvantaged Potter County residents year-’round. As its name implies, Christmas House focuses much of its energies on families for whom presents and fulfilling meals are an economic challenge, if not an impossibility. Hundreds of gifts and boxes of food find their way to the needy each Christmas season, literally “making spirits bright.”

After the decorations have come down and the joy of the season is over, the work of the hardy volunteers at Christmas House continues. The organization continually helps those in need — fire victims, the homeless, the jobless, victims of domestic abuse and others who are down on their luck.

The year 2010 will go down as one of the most successful in the organization’s quarter-century-plus history. Despite a lingering economic recession, people have been especially generous with donations and other forms of support. There are never enough resources to meet all of the needs, but Christmas House has enjoyed an unprecedented level of support this year, according to its director, Alyce Reese.

More than two decades ago, she worked in a similar capacity for Potter County Human Services. When government support for the charitable services was cut, Alyce refused to allow the program to expire and organized the creation of an all-volunteer organization that grew to become Christmas House.

Another highlight of 2010 was the opening of a branch, known as “Christmas House Too,” in Harrison Valley to better assist the needy in northeastern Potter County. Charlene Smith has been spearheading that project, in conjunction with her volunteer work with the Salvation Army, which — along with Potter County Human Services, local churches and other individuals and organizations — has partnered with Christmas House to expand its outreach.

Two of Christmas House’s most faithful volunteers are shown here accepting a $2,500 donation from the American Legion Post 192 in Coudersport, as well as its Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion. Shown from left are Ted Parsell, president of the Post 192 board of directors; Georgeanne Chapell, president of the Post 192 Auxiliary; Richard Chapell, post commander; Alyce Reese and Barb Heimel from Christmas House; and Roger Chapell, commander of the Sons of the American Legion.

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