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Changes for Stow’s Holiday Traditions

The Stow Women’s Club volunteers at a previous Breakfast with Santa, sponsored by the Club. Club President Teri Anapol, in front of Santa, is stepping down from her post at the end of December after 30 years.
Ann DeCristofaro;

By Ann Needle

Even the most treasured holiday traditions must change sometimes. After 30 years, Teri Anapol will step down in January as president of the Stow Women’s Club, also leaving her post as head of the popular Breakfast with Santa, which takes place this Saturday, December 7, at St. Isidore’s Church.

Through the years, the Breakfast has raised thousands for the Club’s non-profit activities, while giving Stow families the opportunity to sit down to a full breakfast and visit with Santa Claus.

“I’ve done it for 30 years, it’s time to step down,” Anapol declared. Noting that her husband, Jim, is about to retire, she added, “I’m stepping back, too. So, after Christmas, I’m done.” But for Stow, the bottom line is, “We need someone to step up to the plate and take this over.”

If someone within the Women’s Club does not step forward to assume responsibility for the Breakfast, Anapol explained that the Club likely will look to other organizations that may be interested. As a high-profile town tradition attracting about 400 people every year, she remarked, “This is not a small event.”

The two-hour Breakfast can pay big dividends. For the silent auction that takes place alongside the morning meal, Anapol estimated, “We make a thousand dollars in two hours.” Donations that Anapol successfully solicited throughout this year include a BOSE radio, golf packages, a Lindt chocolate basket, toys, and wine baskets.

Anapol said that anyone attending this year’s Breakfast can expect to enjoy the traditional activities that accompany the food and Santa, such as pictures with the “big man” and face painting by the Girl Scouts. The Breakfast itself is all-you-can-eat, and includes pancakes, coffee, juice, and ham. The morning’s feast is cooked up in  St. Isidore’s kitchen by a staff of regular volunteers Anapol called “the pancake patrol.”
The Breakfast is an impressive legacy for Anapol, who recalled, “30 years ago, we only had 30 people, and we made $300 — we thought we were rich.” Fast forward to today, Anapol said the Women’s Club now can afford to set aside some free tickets every year for Warm Hearts’ clients.

For those planning to attend, the Breakfast runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. this Saturday at St. Isidore’s. Tickets are free for children under age 2 and seniors, $3 per person for everyone else, with a cap of $12 per family. Each photo with Santa is $10.

Warm Hearts, Another Tradition
Warm Hearts — bringing meals, supplies  and holiday gifts to those in need — is another tradition that underwent changes, growing out of the former Val’s Project and now run by Louise Peacock. The tradition continues to grow as more families find themselves in need.

The organization delivered 52 Thanksgiving dinners this year to Stow families. “That number is up significantly — we haven’t been over 50 [families] in a while,” Peacock sighed. “We had five new families in the past week.”

Despite the improving economy, Peacock attributed this increase to the cutbacks in SNAP (food stamp) assistance, which took effect in November. “They work, they work harder, then they lose their food stamps” when a higher wage leads to cutbacks in assistance, she commented.

But Stow continues to step in to help. Center School held its annual food drive for Warm Hearts in November.  Principal Kevin LaCoste reported that staff and students filled grocery bags with enough donations to provide a record 22 families with Thanksgiving dinners this year.

Next up is the Holiday Toy Drive, where volunteers purchase toys for Stow children who otherwise may not receive holiday gifts. The non-profit Warm Hearts also provides winter clothing and holiday meals to clients this time of the year. Throughout the year, Warm Hearts also offers items such as back-to-school supplies and camperships to those in need.

Tax-deductible donations in care of Warm Hearts of Stow, Inc., can be sent to P.O. Box 10, Stow.