Joy to the Wald in its final season as business owner hangs up hat

‘This is very bittersweet for me,’ says Heaven Sent owner Debbie Doerflein.

LINDENWALD — An event organized by a Lindenwald business leader is in its final season, but that doesn’t mean the hope the event provides to the area is going away.

Joy to the Wald, which allows folks to enjoy the Pleasant Avenue area of the community and to see Santa Claus, is set for Saturday. Children who go will be given a holiday gift.

“People look forward to the event each year … I get the feeling that some of these kids wouldn’t have a Christmas at all if it wasn’t for this little gift that they are going to get. ... And we just like doing that, making sure that everybody has Christmas. It’s a little bit more of a celebration than they might have if it was just left up to the home,” said Frank Downie, chair of Lindenwald’s neighborhood association, PROTOCOL, which stands for People Reaching Out to Others: Celebrating Our Lindenwald.

He said there’s always a “very good” response to the event and more than 200 gifts were given out last year. The majority of children are accompanied by a parent, grandparent or another family member. There’s also an outpouring of community volunteers who get involved to help put on the event.

Joy to the Wald, Christmas with Santa is going to be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Heaven Sent, in the outdoor area next to the banquet hall on Pleasant Avenue. It is free to attend.

The event was founded by Debbie Doerflein of Heaven Sent more than 23 years ago.

Cookies and hot chocolate will be served. Guitarist Paul Underwood will also be playing live music inside at the shop.

“This is going to be our last one, because I’ve got my buildings up for sale. We’re going out as big as we can,” Doerflein said. “I just wanted it to be really good this year. We have a DJ, and we’re going to have a dance-off. We’re going to have a pet parade with the best costume. And, of course, we’ll have all of the presents we normally have, but this year we are not going to wrap them. We are going to let each child choose a gift, so they get what they want and they’re not disappointed when they get home.”

Doerflein has partnered with many individuals, organizations and businesses throughout the community, such as Walgreens and the Hamilton High Twelve Club to ensure the success of the event, which has drawn as many as 300 children.

“This is very bittersweet for me, so I wanted it to be perfect,” Doerflein said.

This year, local barber David Smith of Perfectly Blended Barbershop has donated 12 bicycles and helmets for kids. Children that attend will receive raffle ticket and winners will be selected to receive a bicycle and a helmet.

The reason Doerflein won’t again host Joy to the Wald is that she lost her husband, Dave, earlier this year, and she has put her businesses up for sale.

Downie said PROTOCOL hopes to memorialize the event and continue the tradition with some type of community event in the future.

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