ZELIENOPLE — For the third year, Miracle on Main will celebrate Christmas by following the path of the original Santa Claus.
The annual event, scheduled from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, promotes the generosity of Zelienople residents who give toiletries, coats, gloves, food and furniture to needy families and individuals. In doing so, it renews the legend of old Saint Nicholas, who is remembered for his generosity and support of the poor.
“The purpose is to bring hope for Christmas,” said Donna Ziegler, event organizer.
For children in needy families, Miracle on Main collects and disburses new or almost new children's coats. Ziegler said the coats are collected at local businesses and at the Harmony-Zelienople United Methodist Church, 123 N. Pittsburgh St.
“We don't ask questions,” Ziegler said. “If you need a coat, you're welcome to take one.”
Adding on to the clothing donations is a new collection this year, gathering gloves, mittens and individually wrapped food for children who may not have access to these necessities at home.
Ziegler said this type of charity began when she heard stories of children at Moraine Elementary School in the Slippery Rock School District who went home hungry or cold.
“We are now collecting all those things, and they will be given to the right people who will take them to the schools,” she said.
Backpacks filled with necessary items will be distributed to schools, close and far, including Seneca Valley School District, in “hidden packages” so children who receive them won't feel embarrassed.
Another collection event Miracle on Main promotes is pack-a-purse, which distributes purses stuffed with toiletries to the Victim Outreach Intervention Center, Light of Life Women's Shelter and a ministry that rescues women from trafficking.
Last year, Ziegler said, they collected and distributed 120 purses to women in need.
For families, Miracle on Main will feature a six-piece living room set giveaway. Individuals can suggest families in need by using a nomination form, available at Roach & Ziegler Interiors and Miracle on Main's Facebook and Web pages.
Over the past two years, 16 families have received a new set as a result of donations and nominations.
While the help for those in need drives the event, Miracle on Main brings the Christmas spirit to anyone in attendance.
“I think joy would sum it up in one word,” Ziegler said. “It brings joy to people and blesses people.”
Beyond helping people, Miracle on Main features promotes businesses, who give back to the community by helping out during the event.
“Every business is doing something special, with giveaways or free refreshments,” Ziegler said. “It's something special at each business.”
During the event's four hours, visitors can see costumed Christmas characters, live reindeer, a live Nativity, ice carving and a light-up parade, beginning at 5:30 p.m. There will also be strolling carolers, free horse carriage rides and decorating Christmas cookies with Mrs. Claus.
And at 7:30 p.m., there will be a reading on the Kaufman House balcony of “The Night Before Christmas” — or, in its original title, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
IF YOU GO
WHEN: 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday with a light-up parade at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. reading on the Kaufman House balcony of “The Night Before Christmas”
WHERE: Main Street in Zelienople
WHAT: Free horse-drawn carriage rides, reindeer, strolling carolers, a live Nativity, ice carving and decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus
NOTES: Benefits planned include a children's coat drive, comfort items for homeless women, food drive for children's backpack programs, and a furniture giveaway.