SYRACUSE — The third annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Thirty-One and Basket Games raised nearly $3,500 for Loyalty is Forever, which benefits programs through the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office.
This year’s event didn’t break previous attendance records set by the group, but the house was packed nonetheless, with approximately 175 in attendance, and guests arriving from Marietta, Belpre, Athens, and Mason County, West Virginia.
There were many Farmers Bank ‘elves’ on hand to keep the night moving along, combined with a few volunteer junior elves. During intermission adults and children alike enjoyed a visit from the Sheriff’s K-9 Mascot, Bax, who was available for photos and was passing out a few treats of his own.
One annual highlight, as anticipated by the event name, is the Ugly Christmas Sweater contest. Each year, attendees are invited to participate by donning their most festive, and in some cases ugliest, Christmas attire. Three finalists are selected as winners and receive various prizes to honor their efforts. This year, first place was awarded to Bambi Fisher, in second place was Julie Hubbard, and bringing in third place was Kathy Buckley.
Keeping the evening both light and comical, Commissioner Randy Smith returned this year as bingo caller, and Eastern senior Brody Wood assisted as light flipper. Commissioner Smith also opened the event with a prayer for all those in law enforcement and public service positions.
Hosts Tina Wood Richards of Long Bottom, and Lori Miller of Tuppers Plains, laid the groundwork for their non-profit in 2012, and noted that this organization is one of the more rewarding and gratifying things they participate in. Loyalty is Forever is local group of volunteers that began by hosting fundraisers for causes in and around the County that they felt was close to their hearts and the community’s needs. Their goal is to support worthy causes in the community and help meet the needs of certain organizations, such as law enforcement, youth programs, the elderly, food banks, and public service occupations such as EMT’s and firefighters. All proceeds of these fundraisers are used for these causes and no profit or payment of any kind is granted to the volunteers, who typically spend not only their time, but their own funds as well.
In previous years, they have raised funds for the Sheriff’s K-9 program, the Kid’s Safe ID equipment, and Life Alert program. Event host and volunteer Lori Miller stated, “We feel passionately that Meigs County should be a safe and dependable town for our community. We also feel that working side by side with our Sheriff’s office is one of the greatest ways to ensure this. Our group is dedicated to the process of making this happen, but we can’t do it alone.”
Throughout the evening, over 65 prizes were awarded for the basket games, giveaways, door prizes, and sweater contest. As with previous years, each game winner took home one Thirty-One Bag and one 2016 Longaberger basket for every game. Basket game players went home with prizes which totaled anywhere from $75 to $300.
Many area businesses and individuals stepped forward to offer their support of the Basket Games, in which all proceeds were to benefit programs in our Sheriff’s Office. In a brief speech delivered during the evening, Sheriff Keith Wood added that his team is more than grateful for events like these, as they add to the services that his team can offer Meigs County, and attending events like these and enjoying community support is a great reminder of their goals and the communities support.
The Loyalty is Forever group wants to remind the community to please thank your neighbors because your friends and neighbors are the reason that events like this are successful. “Each year we are humbled by the volunteers who show up, again and again, giving their personal time to help their community. And it is important to mention without the continued existence and support of the amazing team involved with the Syracuse Community Center, events like this would just not happen so successfully” offered Tina Wood Richards, Loyalty is Forever volunteer.
Helping make the event a success were C & J Auto Body LLC, Swisher & Lohse, Home National Bank, Farmers Bank & Savings Co., Aristeo, Pizza Dan’s, Riverside Auto & Towing LLC, Joy Burdette, Racine Optometric Clinic, Little Sheets & Barr, Scout Camp Cattle Farm, The Syracuse Community Center, Clark’s Jewelry, Julie Spaun, Debby McKinney, Carrie Sheets, Michael Lieving, Shannon Miller, and Alyssa Richards.