Christ Child Society of the Western Reserve
To help fund their programs, CCS volunteers run a resale shop, the Clothing Cottage in Mentor which offers clothing for men, women, and children as well as shoes, handbags, and jewelry.
By Stacy Turner
Over 125 years ago, a young woman’s act of love for an unborn child started what is today the Christ Child Society.
Mary Virginia Merrick’s act of kindness came from a heart made all the more empathetic by her paralysis from a childhood accident. Mary’s sincere and simple love of God inspired her to answer the desperate social needs she recognized in Washington, D. C.
Mary overcame the challenge of sparse resources by forming alliances. Her leadership and collaborative efforts served as an inspiration to those around her. Over the years, the work of the Society broadened and evolved. Today, 6,000 members in nearly 50 chapters across 20 states are driven by faith, love, and a desire to make a difference in the lives of children.
Since 1983, the Christ Child Society of the Western Reserve has worked to meet the growing needs of children in Lake County. What started with eight like-minded women has grown over the past 40 years to include hundreds of members. Each year, they serve thousands of children in Lake County through multiple programs made possible by the generous support of donors and volunteers.
For many, their first introduction to the Christ Child Society is when a new mom receives a hand-crocheted layette — a loving bundle of infant clothing, hooded towel and washcloth, blankets and a book swaddled in a cozy blanket. New moms receive these items through service agencies and healthcare facilities in Lake County.
The Christ Child Society also provides for eye screenings at preschools and nursery schools throughout the county. After the exam, if a child needs glasses and their family is financially unable to pay the cost, the Society provides for them.
In addition, The Christ Child Society aims to foster a love of words through literacy programs. By reading to preschoolers, they hope to ignite them with a love of reading and the desire to learn. To keep kids engaged when school is out, each year members compile nearly 175 summer reading bags filled with books and fun activities. The bags are gifted to preschoolers to help get them prepared and excited for the coming school year.
During the summer months, the Christ Child Society provides “camperships” that help defray the cost of summer camp experiences. Locations have included 4-H Camp, Camp Red Oak Hospice, Camp Christopher, Camp Ho Mita Koda, Hiram House, and Highbrook Lodge Camp. Last year, the Christ Child Society helped provide these experiences to 160 kids from kindergarten up to the age of 18.
And as Lake County’s kids move up to high school and college, the Christ Child Society provides scholarships to graduating seniors at all Lake County public schools for the two or four-year college or trade school of their choosing. Last year, the group awarded $14,000 in scholarships to Lake County students.
To help fund these valuable programs, CCS volunteers run a resale shop, the Clothing Cottage in Mentor. The Clothing Cottage offers clothing for men, women, and children as well as shoes, handbags, and jewelry. Donations of new, gently used, and like-new items are accepted during store hours. You’ll find the store at 9324 Mentor Avenue in the Pastina Rustic Plaza. The Clothing Cottage is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 am–3 pm. For more information, call 440-350-9836.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” shared Bobbie McArthur, president of the Christ Child Society of the Western Reserve. “The community has been so generous to us. We’ve received donations of Coach bags, and other name brand items, as well as clothing with tags still attached.” Since the store’s inventory is donated, these items are a bargain for shoppers, while purchases made at the Clothing Cottage help support the Christ Child Society’s valuable programming. “As an added benefit,” McArthur shared, “all the funds we raise stay in Lake County.”
Other fundraising efforts include the Daisy Golf Classic, the Harbor Hogs & Hot Rods summer event, and the Red Wagon Luncheon & Auction. This year’s event takes place on April 26 at Regovich Catering and will be hosted by Mark Johnson, chief meteorologist at News 5 Cleveland.
Find out more by visiting www.christchildwesternreserve.org, calling 440-350-9836, or simply stopping by the Clothing Cottage location.