Warsaw Times Union 12 24 2018 E Edition Page 1A

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - A few weeks ago it was just another overgrown street corner weed. Now it's decked out with Christmas lights and ornaments and sprouting holiday goodwill. The Christmas weed, as it's affectionately known across Toledo, has become an overnight holiday attrac tion, bringing out hundreds of children and adults who have been lining up for self ies and leaving behind donations for the needy. It all began when one family decorated the weed to spread some Christmas cheer. But the sad and scraggly weed has grown into something bigger. "It's a true Christmas story," said Jimmy Izbinski, who joined the fun this week by putting on a Santa Claus suit and waving to motorists passing by with smiles on their faces. "With love, a weed can be a beauti ful thing." The weed, which once stood 4 feet high (1.2 meters high) and shoots out from the edge of a traffic island, started out with just a bit of tinsel and garland nearly two weeks ago. In the past few days, oth ers have added lights, candy canes and glass ornaments - leaving little of the weed visible - while surround ing it with canned goods, blankets, clothes and wrapped gifts. A dead pot ted plant draped with Santa hats and bows has been added to the collection. At some point over the past few days, someone apparently ripped off the top of the weed, but that didn't dampen the good cheer. Of course, there have been jokes about whether the weed might be the vari ety that could get you arrested in Ohio, and there's a Facebook page dedicated to daily updates. So many donations have been pouring in that the city brought in bins on Wednesday to handle the overflow and warned peo ple to be careful while stop ping at the busy intersec tion. All of the contributions, the city said, will be given to local charities. "It's awesome that the community is coming together to share the spirit like this," said Tenley Hauser, of nearby Temperance, Michigan, who stopped by to see the weed this week. "It started out with a little weed and look what it's turned into." Lamona Rivera couldn't stop the tears of gratitude when Salvation Army volun teers brought out bundles of Christmas gifts for her two kids, 7 year old Antonio and 6 year old Londyn. For Antonio, the avid reader, there was a LeapFrog learning toy, along with a jacket and pair of sneakers. Antonio has cerebral palsy and wears braces on his legs, so it's something of a miracle that the shoes are just the right style to accommodate his braces, his mom says. For Londyn, there was a new bike to put under the tree, along with a pair of roller skates, a Barbie car and two new Barbies. Rivera, a single mom who works as restaurant server, said money is tight. Her kids know not to ask for extras like toys during shopping trips, but during Christmas she wants to reward them for being good all year. Antonio has worked his way out of special education and now is a leader in his first grade classroom. And Londyn excels at gymnastics class and is picking up so much Spanish in her bilin gual kindergarten classroom that she's teaching her family the second language. "When you have kids that are so excited about life and doing good, you have to reward them," Rivera says. "You want them to be rewarded, because they're both such good kids. ... I don't have the money to do that for them, but it's a program like the Salvation Army's that will make it OK." This year, Londyn and Antonio are two of approxi mately 7,300 children who will receive gifts this Christmas thanks to the Salvation Army's Christmas program, which matches children in need with anony mous donors who buy the gifts. Some 1,400 seniors will also receive gifts as part of the program. In cases where donors don't come forward, Charlotte Observer readers cover the expense by giving to the Empty Stocking Fund. Money raised by last year's fund allowed the Salvation Army to purchase 6,056 toys and 456 gifts for low income seniors. Each child will also receive a new backpack this TIMES UNION December 24, 2018 WARSAW, IN - $1 - FOUNDED 1854 - NO. 302 @TUonline Times-Union - Warsaw timesuniononline.com World London airport open, but loca- tion of drone culprit up in air. Page 8B Opinion The burdens and blessings of nostalgia. Page 4A Contact Us: PHONE: 574-267-3111 MAIL: P.O. Box 1448, Warsaw, IN 46581-1448 EMAIL: news@timesuniononline.com Low 23 High 38 Sports Tigers upend 2A No. 1 West- view Warriors. Page 1B Cloudy tonight; snow, rain Tuesday. TIMES UNION $0.50 8 5 32320 00001 Monday IN OUR 164th YEAR OF CONTINUOUS SERVICE TO KOSCIUSKO COUNTY BY CHRISTINA BOLLING The Charlotte Observer For Tribune News Service Photo provided In this Tuesday photo, Christmas decorations and donations sur- round what's now known as the Christmas weed in Toledo, Ohio. Photo by The Charlot e Observer, courtesy of Lamona Rivera Pres Siblings Londyn Grier (L) and Antonio Rivera are excited about their Christmas wish lists: a bicycle and skates for Londyn, and a reading technology device and games for Antonio. Money is tight at Christmas for their family this year, so they're getting help from the Salvation Army's Christmas pro- gram. See KIDS- Page 2A $1 Christmas Help From Strangers Is 'Just A Blessing' For Mom And Her Kids Roadside Weed Decorated For Christmas Sprouts Holiday Cheer LOS ANGELES (AP) - Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is the high est charting Billboard Hot 100 holiday hit in 60 years, but Americans still prefer hearing carols such as "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells," a new poll shows. Americans named "Silent Night" as their favorite holi day song followed by "Jingle Bells" at 8 percent, according to a poll by The Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The open ended question showed that "It's a Wonderful Life" is a fan favorite among holiday films, followed closely by a mix of recent comedies and classics. Nine percent of respon dents listed the 1946 Frank Capra classic "It's a Wonderful Life" as their favorite film. Jimmy Stewart plays a conscientious family man who faces a seemingly insurmountable debt and attempts to end his life, but is stopped by a guardian angel on Christmas Eve. "It's a story of redemp tion," said Michael Germana, 65, who called the film his favorite. The California native is also among the 21 percent of adults 60 and older who choose "Silent Night," which was first performed 200 years ago. "It's a song of inclusion," Germana said. "There's no strife." Americans under 30 are more likely than those older to name "Jingle Bells" (12 percent) and Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" (7 percent) as their favorite. Carey's song only trails the 1958 song "The Chipmunk Song" by David Seville as the highest chart ing hit on Billboard. Other popular songs on Billboard charts include Kenny G's "Auld Lang Syne" and "This One's for the Children" by New Kids on the Block. "All I Want for Christmas Is You" was named by 3 per cent of adults overall, while "Baby It's Cold Outside," which has drawn criticism in the #MeToo era and led some stations to stop playing it, was named by 5 percent. There were more contem porary choices among respondents when it came to film. Seven percent chose 1983's "A Christmas Story" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," but most people didn't specify whether they preferred the 1966 animated television special or the 2000 live action adaption starring Jim Carrey. A computer ani mated version, "The Grinch" has earned more than $239 million domestically since its early November release. Six percent selected the 2003 comedy "Elf" starring Will Ferrell, the Chevy Chase led "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and "Home Alone," a 1990 box office hit starring Macaulay Culkin, as the burglar thwarting Kevin McCallister. Also listed as a favorite by 2 percent of respondents: the 1988 Bruce Willis action film "Die Hard." Overall, Seventy movies or Christmas specials and 107 songs were cited as holiday favorites by poll respon dents. In this Dec. 31, photo, Mariah Carey performs at the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square in New York. A poll shows more Americans are favoring Christmas carols over recent Billboard hits. Christmas Carols Favored Over Billboard Hits In observance of Christmas, the TIMES-UNION offices will be closed today and Tuesday.

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