Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

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Christ Child Society “Starlight Ball”

“Boy, that’s just like a hug!” said the young man in the video, trying on his own warm coat for the first time. Last year, the century-young Christ Child Society gave a lot of hugs, distributing more than 2,000 winter coats and 2,456 school uniforms. The society provided 1,200 “My Stuff” bags, filled with clothing, socks, hygiene items, paper and crayons/markers, for children in shelters and crisis centers.

And nearly 300 patrons watching the video added more hugs, raising $150,000 at the organization’s 66th annual Starlight Ball. In return, the diligent Hilton waitstaff scurried about, serving charred corn chowder, braised short rib with roasted vegetable gratin and stuffed eggplant with tomato caponata. Capping the dinner: Key Lime tart with torched meringue topped with a Christ Child Society medallion in white chocolate.

Offering a blessing before the feast, special guest Bishop Nelson J. Perez recalled the life of founder Mary Virginia Merrick. “She had a great desire to serve in the religious life, but her physical illness limited her. God had a different idea,” said Bishop Perez. “So, she began knitting. She didn’t know for whom, but from her first click of the needles, she knitted clothes for children in need.”  He noted that 101 years later, helping children is all the more urgent, particularly given the opioid crisis gripping northeast Ohio. “Both parents may succumb to an opioid addiction, leaving the kids with great needs.”

As the video ended, emcee Betsy Kling returned to the podium. “Can you imagine being a parent and not being able to give your child something of their own?” asked the WKYC chief meteorologist. Then, after dancing to the Redline and collecting auction items, supporters of the Christ Child Society answered, assuring more coats and layettes, crayons and cots to ease the strain for many children and families in crisis. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY PEGGY TURBETT

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