The Aquatics Class at Woodlands at Austin Woods is in the Christmas mood. They have put together a truckload of toys that will be going to children under the Angel Tree program.
According to aquatics program Director Cathy Crawford, there are 150 people in five classes that are offered for those with an arthritic condition. They come to the Woodlands to workout in a pool, which the members claim is a big help in living with arthritis.
"I had two knee and a hip replacement," said Mary Bentford. "The water is fantastic and if I miss a session, I feel it the next day."
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
The Woodlands at Austin Woods’ Aquatic Program members Judy Briggs, Mary Bentford, Cliff Armstrong, Alice Noga, Kay Yeager and Marie Osborne are ready to bring smiles to children who otherwise wouldn’t have had a very good Christmas this year. They donated hundreds of toys to be given out next week to Angel Tree.
The program has been continuing for more than 17 years and has helped many. A lot of the members have been involved for all those years and they have developed into a family of sorts. Years ago, they began having Christmas parties and other outings that raised funds and gifts to help others. Last year, they collected toys to send to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation through Mission of Love.
This year, the members decided to send the toys to Angel Tree, a program that brings the Christmas spirit to children whose parents are incarcerated. The toys are donated by members during the annual Christmas party, but the generosity doesn't stop there.
"Each week we hold a 50/50 raffle during our classes," Crawford said. "At our summer picnic we hold a Chinese auction. All the proceeds from the events are totaled and we give it to a charitable cause at Christmas."
This year, the members had raised $1,500 and they voted to give the money to Darcie Fletcher, the Austintown schools crossing guard that was struck by a vehicle in November. Crawford said when the members found out she was in serious condition and had no health insurance, they wanted to help.
"The [aquatic class members] are good people," Crawford said. "They are always willing to open their hearts to those in need."