Trends, tips and resources

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Nearly 4,500 abused, neglected and troubled children in Franklin County may not receive gifts this holiday season without the help of the community. For more than 40 years, Franklin County Children Services has asked the community to help fill the holiday wishes of children through the agency's Holiday Wish program. And year after year, thousands of individuals, businesses, churches and civic groups have come forward to help.

The children receiving the gifts are under the care of Franklin County Children Services and may have suffered through a variety of abuses. They live with foster parents, relatives, parents, or in residential care. There is no guarantee that without the help of the community these children will experience the true spirit of giving and receiving.

This gift-giving program allows each child under the care of Children Services to wish for a specific gift. The child's wish comes true through the generosity of community donors. Each child up to age 11 may ask for a gift worth $40.

Fifty-dollar monetary donations are needed for each child 12 to 18. Emergency toy donations and other cash donations are also needed. All donations to Holiday Wish are tax deductible. Donations are accepted online at This year, Holiday Wish progress can also be followed on Facebook.

Find out how you can help children enjoy the holidays. Call Holiday Wish at (614) 275-2525 or e-mail holidaywish@

Groveport Art Gallery's spectacular holiday art exhibit is sure to delight kids of all ages and their parents. Vintage Trains & Erector Sets features an extensive collection of antique toy trains and erector sets dating back to 1912. Many are operational.

Trains included in the exhibit:

  • Rare cardboard train from World War II
  • Pre-World War II Lionel and American Flyer O-gauge
  • Marx electric and wind-up trains
  • Lionel pre-World War I standard gauge train
  • Erector set models from 1913 to the 1950s in the exhibit:
  • 5-foot 1913 model Ferris wheel
  • 6-foot 1950s parachute jump, featured in the amusement park set
  • Carousel and Ferris wheel from the 1950s.

The exhibit will be presented through January 3. Closed November 11, 26, 27; December 24, 25 and January 1. Groveport Town Hall Art Gallery, 648 Main St. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sundays, noon-6 p.m. Admission is free. Guided tours presented by the collector may be arranged by calling the Town Hall at (614) 836-3333.

Three St. Joseph Montessori School (SJMS) students, Elliott Narcross, Nicholas Salamon and Elisabeth Spector, have been chosen to accompany the Ohio School for the Blind High School Marching Band to California in January.

The band has been selected to march in the 121st Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena on January 1, 2010. Narcross, Salamon and Spector have the responsibility of assisting the students with staying in formation and moving safely in unfamiliar terrain.

All three SJMS students are in eighth grade and are the youngest sighted assistants to work with the marching band. Their work with blind students began as a community service project, but has become much more.

The Ohio School for the Blind has been in existence since 1837, the marching band program since 2005, when the School for the Deaf invited them to play at their football game. The next year, a full marching band program was developed. In order to perform, sighted assistants were recruited.

Today the High School for the Blind has the only blind marching band in the country. Band director Carol Agler noted that the mission of the band is to show the public and encourage the blind students to remember "being blind does not mean you can't do (certain things or anything), you just do them differently."

Step into Lottie Da and you will find the most eclectic assortment of children's gifts, gear, toys and clothing in Columbus. This boutique has a one-a-kind feel and many designs are handmade and exclusive to Lottie Da. It is the destination for that perfect baby shower gift, or for the outfit that will make moms at the playground green with envy.

The Lottie Da concept was developed by store owner and Clintonville resident Amy Routh. Inspired by her daughter Charlotte and armed with her background in design, Amy set out to bring a unique shopping experience to Columbus. Her carefully chosen products are aimed at parents who appreciate good design and want something unique for their infant, toddler or preschooler.

Customers can choose their own fabrics and create a look that fits their personal style preference. Amy's custom offerings include crib bedding and nursery accessories, diaper bags and her own line of girls' dresses. Shower registries are welcome and gift certificates are available.

Stop in for Lottie Da's first holiday open house on December 5 to see what all the buzz is about. Located at 4705 N. High St. Extended holiday hours start November 27. Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. More information is available on the website: Or contact Amy at (614) 754-1261.

Reading begins at home. Before children ever go to school, they acquire knowledge that lays the foundation for reading. They learn about objects, events, thoughts and feelings, and develop the language skills to express ideas and describe experiences.

Huntington Learning Center offers the following tips on what you can do to help your children become better readers.

Help your children acquire a wide range of knowledge. When you take your children on shopping trips, visits to the zoo and museums, and on family vacations, you help give them important background knowledge. Surround these events with questions, answers and comments.

Talk with your children about their experiences. This helps build vocabulary and expressive skills, connecting their world to language. Ask "what if" questions to expand their imagination and creativity.

Read aloud with your children. Reading aloud is the most important way for children to learn about letters and words. Listen attentively as your child reads to you and take turns reading to one another. Remember to praise your children for their efforts.

As you read with your children, stop periodically and ask questions. For example, ask your child what he or she thinks might happen next. Or ask, "Do you know what a palace is?" Point out different things in the story, such as, "Look how much he has eaten."

Set a family reading time. This shows that you enjoy reading and will encourage your children to value reading as well. Have plenty of books in your home and visit the library regularly.

Monitor how much TV your children watch. Many experts recommend that children watch no more than 10 hours of television each week. When watching TV with beginning readers, turn on the closed-caption feature.

Huntington Learning Center can help give children the tools needed to succeed, the confidence in their ability to learn, and the desire to achieve in school. For more information, call (800) CAN LEARN.

The Salvation Army in Central Ohio is anticipating their busiest holiday season to date. More people than ever are turning to the Salvation Army for help during these difficult times. The army is preparing to provide food, toys and warm winter coats to thousands of local families in need. None of this would be possible without the generous support of the central Ohio community.

Last year the Salvation Army provided holiday toys and food to more than 7,300 families, raised more than $535,000 through Red Kettle donations and provided 4,022 adults and children with winter coats. This year there is much to be done and many opportunities to volunteer are available to make the holidays brighter for less fortunate families.

Volunteer are needed for Coats for Columbus, Christmas Kettles, Columbus Blue Jackets raffles, Christmas Cheer, Adopt-A-Family, toy and food drives, office helpers and holiday shoppers. For more information on these and other volunteer opportunities, contact Jean Griffith at, or (614) 358-2627.