The Ashland Beacon
Christmas is a wonderful time of the year in which family and friends gather together to share in the joy, delicious food and holiday giving. Everywhere, children excitedly await for the arrival of Santa. They tear through the house on Christmas morning to find mountains of gift-wrapped packages, ripping through the paper to find out what amazing goodies and toys on their Christmas wish lists are tucked inside.
But what if there were no gifts? What if there were no beautifully decorated Christmas tree; there are no Christmas candies, cookies and the wonderful aromas of a Christmas ham baking in the oven, no heat for warmth or lights on in the house.
What if there was no home to keep you safe? None of the day-to-day blessings so many take for granted.
“Children have to hope,” said Carol Jean Cieraszynkski, founder of the annual Jingle Bell Charity Ball to be held this Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Boyd County RV Park, formerly known as Fannin Auto Center on Route 60 in Summit.
For nearly two decades, hope is exactly what Carol Jean has given to children every year with the annual ball. Why? Because she was once one of those children who woke up to nothing on Christmas morning.
“I know it, I lived it, I feel it,” Carol Jean explained. Growing up severely impoverished, she understands firsthand what it is like to be poor, and not just on Christmas morning. She suffered the hardships of poverty throughout her childhood and yet, she found a way to be a part of that Christmas spirit through the church.
As a child, “I needed to be a part of something. I needed to be a part of Christmas and the feeling of Christmas. So, every year on Christmas Eve I would walk over two miles to a church for the service,” she recalled.
And yet, though her story is an amazing one, of human strength and one of perseverance to overcome the poverty and many life obstacles she faced, it is not one she cares to focus on when talking about “the children, and when you have lived it you see it through children's eyes and the focus should always be on the children, not me,” she humbly explained.
“It is the biggest time of the year for children and they have to have hope. Their families need hope and that is what the Jingle Bell Charity Ball is all about,” she continued. “The things I feel in my heart for these children is beyond any words I can ever express.”
For nearly two decades the annual ball has not only provided Christmas gifts for children, but the additional money it takes in goes to help those individuals and families in need year-round. As a beneficiary of the ball, CARES helps with heating and utility bills and other services that the poor so desperately need just to survive the hardships they face every single day.
Living in a more rural area, the number of children in need is not easily recognizable. For whatever reason, many families can go unnoticed. For many of these families, pride can be a big deterrent for them to reach for assistance, and so they suffer in silence.
“There are so many children in need here,” Carol Jean said. “I know this community is filled with people who have a wonderful, giving heart to help. And that is why I started the fundraising event many years ago. I want the ball to stand behind what this community stands for and that is giving children hope.”
This year’s event will feature a flair of delicious food, a silent auction with many various items including those coveted UK basketball tickets, and a festive Yuletide evening of dancing and music by Gary Donaldson and The Party Bus. And for those who know Gary and have followed his years as a talented musician and artist, who can resist?
But get your tickets quick, or you may find yourself missing out on the fun and donating to one of the worthiest charitable events in the community. And of course, if you do miss out, you can always make a donation.
As for Carol Jean, she puts the reason in perspective as to why sometimes bad things happen to good people.
“I do deeply feel in my heart that through all of those hard years as a child and the guidance I got from going to those Christmas Eve services at the church is what got me here. It was all meant to get me to these children and helping these children.”
To secure your tickets to the annual Jingle Bell Charity Ball on Saturday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m.-midnight, and the opportunity to bless a child, call 606.325.0407. Tickets are $75, plus one unwrapped new toy or clothing for children ages 0-16. Open up your Christmas spirit and giving hearts. Until next year...