When Clint Sprick and Fallon Kersey began planning their October 2013 wedding, they quickly realized how blessed they were and began looking for a way to use their nuptials to give back to their community.
The Clarksville couple and alumni of University of the Ozarks decided to ask their wedding guests to bring a new toy to their October 11 wedding. The toys were then donated to Christmas Angels, a program that was started in 1992 by the University of the Ozarks Women (UOW) organization to provide Christmas toys and clothing to needy children of Johnson County.
"We really had everything we needed and felt so blessed, so we wanted to do something that would help the community, especially the children," Fallon said. "We were both familiar with the Christmas Angels program and we felt that helping children have a better Christmas would be a great way to celebrate our wedding. That’s when we got the idea of asking our guests to bring toys as wedding gifts."
University of the Ozarks alumnus Clint and Fallon Sprick, with their son Parker, show off some of the toys they received as wedding gifts from their Oct. 11 wedding. The Spricks received more than 200 new toys as wedding gifts and donated them to the Christmas Angels program.
The Spricks, who have a 3-year-old son named Parker, collected more than 200 new toys as wedding gifts during their 1980s-themed wedding in Dardanelle. Many of the guests continued the 1980s theme in their toys, which included such generational mainstays as board games, Star War figures, Barbie dolls, Legos and Lite-Bright.
"It was really neat to hear how much the guests enjoyed shopping for toys," Clint said. "It’s definitely much more enjoyable to shop for toys than it is a toaster oven or blender."
Both Fallon and Clint attended Ozarks in the early 2000s, but they didn’t meet until a few years later when they were both working at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center. Fallon has been familiar with the Christmas Angels program for many years and would even ask her guests to bring toys for the program during her birthday parties.
Clint and Fallon have continued the tradition of giving with their son Parker.
"The Christmas Angels is such a wonderful program that touches so many children and families," Fallon said. "We have a tradition that we pick out an angel who is the same age as Parker and we go shopping as family to pick out toys and clothing."
The Christmas Angels program provided clothing and toys for more than 850 children in Johnson County last year. That number is expected to grow to more than 900 this year.
Families apply for the program through the Department of Human Services. Once the families apply for assistance, UOW members and other volunteers work tirelessly to create anonymous coded labels to correspond to each child. The labels are attached to angel ornaments and either placed on Christmas trees or distributed to various businesses.
Each angel ornament contains information about the child’s age, gender, color preferences, and clothing sizes.
Wilma Harris, chair of the UOW Christmas Angels committee, said, "We’ve made a commitment that each child on our list will receive at least one outfit, and one major toy. There are many children in this program who won’t receive any toys at Christmas, other than the ones they get through this program."
If you would like to adopt an angel for this Christmas, angel trees have been setup in Mabee Administration Building on the U of O campus, as well as at several businesses throughout Clarksville. The deadline to turn in angel tree gifts is Friday, Dec. 6, and UOW will accept monetary donations toward the project at any time during the year.
For more information on making a donation to the Christmas Angels project, contact Wilma Harris at 479-979-1212.