TOLEDO, Dec. 16, 2023: The Believe Center held its annual Believe in Community Pancake Breakfast and Toy Give Away event on Dec. 16th, in collaboration with Neighborhood Health Association (NHA), The Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, the City of Toledo, Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County, Owens Community College, Del La Luz Marketing, and Little Angels Arts & Crafts Ministry. 

Saturday marked the fourth year the event has taken place.

“The purpose of the event is to provide a warm breakfast and gifts and giveaways to Believe Center and community partner children,” said Vinny Riccardi, The Believe Center’s executive director.  The goal is to grow the event each year and try to provide as many resources as possible for families in need.

“Each year the goal is to collaborate with area partners to put together a fun, family friendly holiday event where people can not only receive gifts but be introduced to resources that will assist them beyond the holiday season,” explained Elaina Hernández of The Believe Center. The goal is to introduce families to resources that help them overcome everyday barriers and promote an improved lifestyle. Each year, they seek more partners for the event.

“For example, this year we were able to collaborate with the Neighborhood Health Association (NHA) and offer vaccinations to families during the event,” she added.

NHA administered more than 30 COVID vaccines to families who attended the event and as a bonus for those who received the vaccination, The Area Office on Aging distributed gift cards.

“We were happy to be invited to participate in this event. It provided NHA the opportunity to not only talk to families about the benefits of receiving vaccines but also to promote healthier lifestyle for families. It is always a pleasure seeing children excited for getting a Christmas gift and having a good time!” said Derricka Cunningham, NHA community health nurse. Cunningham looks forward to collaborating with The Believe Center for future events.

NHA operates the Center’s Aurora Senior Health Clinic, located near the Center. The clinic is designed to focus on the needs of those 55 and over, with geriatric primary care and specialist care in the same building. The Mayores Senior Center, located in the same complex, is operated by NHA. NHA also runs the South Side Community Health Center, 732 South Ave., which offers services in English and Spanish.

More than 125 gifts were distributed to children and families during the event. As children and families to receive their gifts, they were offered vaccines, made arts and crafts, learned about programs offered by other collaborating partners, and simply had fun!

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The Lucas County Auditor’s Office was part of The Believe Center and NHA’s Dec. 16th event. Anita López, the 16-year-incumbent auditor, has filed for the Lucas County Commissioner’s position, with Tina Skeldon Wozniak retiring after 21 years [see page 5]. Her candidacy will be featured in a forthcoming issue of La Prensa.