By Terri Yochum
The spirit of the holiday season came to Rogers Plaza last Thursday evening as hundreds of people took part in the third annual Wyoming Gives Back celebration, sponsored by the Wyoming/Kentwood Chamber of Commerce.
The community event provides a circle of giving as local businesses along 28th Street share their appreciation with supporters by making a donation or hosting a table. Residents who donated one new unwrapped toy to the Salvation Army were automatically entered in a raffle for goods and services donated by over 20 area businesses. The Grand Prize, a flat-screen TV, was donated by Car City.
“It’s about connecting with members of the community and taking time to personally thank them for their continued patronage,” explained Erin Nemastil, communication specialist for the city of Wyoming. “It’s a fun event that really brings people together.”
Erin added that one group gave out 100 soccer balls to families giving event officials an estimate of a couple hundred attendees.
Over five musical groups provided performances including the Salvation Army Band, the Tri Unity Christian School Cherub Choir, Godwin Heights Choir, and the Wyoming Public School Jazz Band. Mayor Jack Poll was the evening’s emcee but Santa Claus was the headliner for all the children in attendance.
The raffle drawings took place between choir performances. The lucky winners were treated to “…exceptionally generous prizes, ” according to Nemastil.
The Retired Seniors Volunteer Patrol were on hand to demonstrate the process of fingerprinting. Fingerprinting is just one of the many duties the seniors perform. They also handle parking complaints, inspections and home checks.
“There are 28 of us in all, both male and female. We do all we can to help out,” said one volunteer sergeant.
The Wyoming/Kentwood Chamber of Commerce is the driving force behind the event each year. Bob O’Callaghan, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce, was pleased with the chambers efforts this year. “Smiles, nothing but smiles,” he said, referring to the success.
Meanwhile, WKTV’s Nate Diedrich invited guests into his on-site studio to record their comments about what they love about the city of Wyoming. The mere thought of going on YouTube was a dream come true for some enthusiasts. Their excitement was infectious.
“Every year has been even more successful than the last,” said Erin Nemastil at night’s end. Next year promises to be even bigger.