The opioid epidemic claims the lives of thousands of Ohioans each year, many leaving families and children behind.
A local non-profit organization steps in to bring joy to these children during the holiday season.
Project Noelle’s Cuyahoga County Chapter held their annual Christmas gift distribution at Brook Park United Methodist Church on Saturday.
The organization was founded four years ago by Keli Clark, a Sandusky-area mother who lost her daughter, Noelle, to the opioid epidemic.
Since then, sections of the organization across the state and in Florida have assisted children affected by the epidemic with their annual distribution of Christmas gifts and other events held throughout the year.
Robbie Slapnick of Cleveland is one of the people assisted by the organization.
âI have four grandchildren who are my life so I do everything I can to give Christmas on top of what their beautiful mom does,â Slapnick said.
She said it was difficult to make ends meet and make sure there were presents under the tree.
âIt’s Noel. People don’t have money. And the kids are expecting so much now,â Slapnick said.
Fortunately, she has a few angels from the Noelle Project by her side.
âFor me as a grandmother, especially with the grandchildren, it’s so calming for the soul to know that someone is helping you,â Slapnick said.
The Cuyahoga County Chapter of Project Noelle has partnered with several groups for its cast this year, including the Blockbuster Society, Cuyahoga County Health Board, Matt Talbot for Men, The Woodrow Project, and the National Guard. region.
It’s good. It’s good. The outpouring of the community is just overwhelming, âsaid Sue Derov, co-director of the Cuyahoga County section of Project Noelle.
Derov says the need is growing. They helped 350 children last year and are helping 475 this year and the gifts given by Good Samaritans just keep getting better.
âBikes, TVs, iPads, you know, so that’s a really good thing,â Derov said.
Nonetheless, Derov wants their reach to expand even further and hopes more people continue to learn about their organization.
âI feel like we’re only really touching Cuyahoga County. Basically, you know, we’re reaching people on the west side and it could be so much more real, âDerov said.
Those who know the organization, like Slapnick, can testify to the impact of the NoÃ«lle project on their lives.
“Last year when I got home I felt like I was driving a sleigh home. I felt like Santa Claus. And to me it touches me. It touches me,” a said Slapnick.
More information on The NoÃ«lle project can be found here.
Newsy’s Jade Jarvis first reported it.