34th Annual Spirit of Christmas on Saturday
INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) said the Annual Spirit of Christmas Gift Giveaway with refreshments will be celebrating its 34th anniversary on Saturday, Christmas Eve, December 24, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., inside the Calumet Township Multi-Purpose Center, 1900 West 41st Avenue.
Smith said the event was held 33 years as a dinner most recently held at the Genesis Center, which is now closed. “We searched near and far and could not find a facility where the employees were willing to work on Christmas Day even though we were willing to pay overtime,” Smith explained. “Therefore, we decided to hold a Gift Giveaway and serve light holiday refreshments. There will be toys for the children and gifts for the adults.”
The event is primarily for residents of the 14th House District; however, everyone is welcome, Smith added. He emphasized all are welcome. In particular, he invites the hungry and poor, senior citizens, and individuals who are lonely during the holiday season.
“This 34th anniversary is a milestone for the Spirit of Christmas event,” said Dr. Smith. “Some friends and I initially put the dinner together to serve the community while honoring my mother, Reverend Julia E. Smith, and a teacher, Patricia Tillotson, whom I greatly admired.
“My mother and Ms. Tillotson had a tremendous love for the poor and all those in need. For me, these women exemplified the true meaning of Christmas, so it seemed appropriate to create an event that welcomed all those in need to a Christmas outing and warm fellowship. The event has grown and become a true blessing for everyone involved.”
Dr. Smith hosts the dinner with Robin Bernal Ealy and Gary Councilman Dwight A. Williams.
As Dr. Smith mentioned, the event is held in honor of his mother, the Rev. Julia E. Smith, who served as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, and Patricia Tillotson, a former educator in the Gary School Corporation.