Falls center celebrates Christmas


Tina Dallas, 12, of Warren, smiled while looking at a figurine, telling her father, Christopher, that it would be a perfect present for her little brother.

Counting the money in her purse, Dallas begged her father for an additional dollar, so she would have enough.

He sighed, dug into his pocket and handed her a five.

“Yeah,” she said, while paying for the figurine, “it’s perfect.”

The family was one of several hundred who walked through Newton Falls Community Center, buying locally made products and other items. Kids also were able to meet Santa Claus.

Ashley Grunder, director of the Newton Falls Community Center, described the Community Christmas as the first of a series of special activities held every other month that are designed to bring more people into the center and to raise money for it.

“The center was underutilized,” Grunder said. “We painted it and made other improvements to make it look better. We want to raise money to be able to redo the floors.”

The community center originally was built in 1942 and needs significant work.

In the last year, the number of activities for seniors increased and on several nights a week there are yoga and Zumba classes.

Many local, nonprofit community organizations, such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, are using the center.

Grunder said the Community Christmas was patterned after what previously had been the Home Town Christmas, which had been sponsored by a different organization.

There were 47 primarily local vendors participating in the one-day event Sunday.

“We did not set a financial goal for this,” she said. “We just wanted to see if we could get it done. Maybe we will set specific goals next time.”

“The center originally was a USO center when it opened,” Grunder said. “We would like the USO to have a significant presence here again.”

Newton Falls police Patrolwoman Sheri Bailey, a schools resource officer, said the department has been doing its fill-a-cruiser event twice a year for six or seven years.

“During the summer, we do one for school supplies to help kids and during the Christmas season we are trying to provide help for residents who may need a little help feeding their families,” she said.

Bailey emphasized they could not do the fill-a-cruiser events without the volunteer efforts of police officers and residents who provide food and other assistance.