TLCC Program Director Dana Schnipke checks in a shipment of books slated for distribution as part of the community center's Chapter for Children program. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)
TLCC Program Director Dana Schnipke checks in a shipment of books slated for distribution as part of the community center's Chapter for Children program. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)

LEIPSIC — Last year, as the Christmas season ramped up, facilitators at The Leipsic Community Center sat down for a brainstorm session, a meeting of socially conscious minds determined to make a difference. The question at the time was, “What do we do this year?”

What they ultimately chose was to give the children of Leipsic, without putting too fine a point on it, the opportunity for absolutely anything and everything. Through Chapters for Children, a holiday program established to distribute books to area children, TLCC gifts kids with every possibility, real or imagined.

With an initial nudge by TLCC Executive Director Kristen Pickens, and the able efforts of fellow staff members at the center, Chapters for Children was born. Through the program — its genesis rooted in Pickens’ fond childhood memories of the smell of a new book — some 600 books, merrily wrapped for the holidy, were gifted to nearly 700 kindergarten through eighth grade students at Leipsic St. Mary’s and the Leipsic School District.

“Our Program Director, Office Administrator, and myself sat down and decided we wanted to do something different this year, something that hadn’t been done before,” TLCC Director Kristen Pickens said at the time, “and we came up with Chapters for Children. Our goal was to get 700 new books donated in seven weeks so we could gift every child at Leipsic Local and Leipsic St. Mary’s grades kindergarten through eighth grade a brand new, wrapped book for Christmas.”

This year, rather than write a whole different page in the evolving history of TLCC, the decision was made to wake Chapters for Children from its pre-holiday slumber, and once again give children in the area the gift of reading. There is, however, one little twist: they’ve significantly expanded their definition of the word “area.”

“We caught the attention of a number of civic organizations and businesses, and we will now be going into Miller City, Pandora, Ottawa Elementary, SPPS, and Glandorf,” Mrs. Pickens announced late last week, estimating TLCC will arrange for the purchase and wrapping of some 2,000 books this year. “That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it.”

In Miller City, Niese Roofing, Kahle & Verhoff Construction, Kuhlman Auto Sales and Tom Verhoff Excavating donated funds. In Ottawa and Glandorf, the Ottawa-Glandorf Rotary, Ottawa Kiwanis, and Love-Heitmeyer Funeral Home gave their support. As for Leipsic, Mrs. Pickens said fundraisers at the center, and the largesse of community members, made the distribution possible.

With books by the boxload arriving at the center, efforts have turned to the festive, as volunteers begin the task of wrapping each individual book. Employees at First Federal Bank and Union Bank have donated their time, as have members of the Ottawa-Glandorf Key Club and Leipsic’s National Honor Society, all with an eye to delivering these gifts by Dec. 16, when schools let out for Christmas break.