ZANESVILLE, Ohio – Christmas Eve has arrived and as children prepare for the arrival of Santa; students, athletes, and staff from one local high school joined forces to make Christmas a little brighter for area kids in need. This morning marked the 28th Annual Christmas on the Hill, held at Bishop Rosecrans in Zanesville. Over 100 children were presented with Christmas gifts purchased by Rosecrans basketball players, cheerleaders, and students through fundraising efforts and local donations. Todd Rock, Boys Basketball Head Coach, says the program brings the entire community together to help those in need.
“We started with one family and about ten kids our first year; and now we’re up about 125 kids and I don’t even know how many families. But, it says a lot for our ex-players and cheerleaders—they come back. They’ve been here since 6:30 this morning playing—my ex-players—and it means a lot; they want to come back and be a part of it. You know, we’ve raised an excess of 300 thousand dollars through all the years for Christmas on the Hill. It’s just so important for our players. You know, they’re off to a great start but basketball is a game. It’s an important game—but it’s not life and this is life for a lot of these kids; they wouldn’t get anything for Christmas.”
As excited children opened their Christmas gifts in the Rosecrans gymnasium, students involved with the program looked on with a sense of appreciation and a spirit of giving. Will Bernath, Senior basketball player, says the reactions given by the children makes the program worthwhile.
“There’s a lot of emotions going on, I think. They’re all really happy—it’s very cool to see just how grateful they are and how much it means to them, really and it means a lot to us too.”
Children in need were identified through area agencies such as Help Me Grow and Head Start as well as through direct nominations. Students and athletes went shopping for the Christmas gifts together a few weeks ago.