Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A bauble on a Christmas tree.Image via Wikipedia
Sleigh Bells for Charity

These days, it seems like all you see when you pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV are stories about businesses closing their doors or violence in cities across the globe. With so many bad things happening, it can be hard to find good news out there. But every day, there exists the small acts of kindness between strangers, the charitable work of volunteers, and the generosity between neighbors, family and friends that make a difference in the lives of others and in our communities.

For example, over the last six years, Bridge Riding for the Disabled, a non-profit in Lebanon, has received a $2,000 - $3,000 in annual donations to support its therapeutic horseback riding programs, all thanks to a local Holiday Sleigh Bell Contest sponsored by Picture This, a downtown Lebanon art and framing shop.     

The contest coincides with the City of Lebanon’s 21st annual Historic Christmas Festival and Horse Drawn Carriage Parade, and gives anyone and everyone an opportunity to get in the holiday spirit and to display their creative and artistic skills, with all proceeds going to support Bridge Riding.

Here’s how it works: Stop in at Picture This at 26 South Broadway in downtown Lebanon to purchase a 6 ½-inch  bell (for adults) or a 4 ½-inch  bell (for children) for $10 each, and then decorate your bell however you like and return it no later than November 28 to ensure its entry in the contest. Even if you don’t elect to decorate a bell yourself, during the week of November 30, for a $1 donation, anyone may vote for their favorite decorated bell. On December 4, Picture This will announce the winners, award prizes and hold a silent auction to sell the bells. Every dollar raised from the sale of bells, from the opportunity to vote for the best bell and from the sale of decorated bells goes to Bridge Riding.

It is a very worthy cause. Established in 1987, Bridge Riding for the Disabled uses therapeutic horseback riding to help people with varying levels of disabilities improve their physical and cognitive skills. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers and the generous donations of others, Bridge Riding serves more than 50 riders each year, ranging from young children to seniors citizens.

Riders in the Bridge Riding program may suffer from autism, cerebral palsy, strokes, multiple sclerosis or developmental disabilities. Along with learning horseback riding, students work to improve muscle coordination, balance, and overall strength and communication skills. The horses at the facility are specially selected and trained for these types of activities and instructors are certified. Over the years proceeds from the annual sleigh bell contest have allowed Bridge to install a new, softer floor for its arena, which helps to prevent injuries in case of a fall and a special lift to better help participants mount their horses. For more information about Bridge Riding for the Disabled, call (937) 654-4693 or visit their Web site at

Now, I do not profess to be artistic in any way, but I recently purchased a bell to decorate. Even as I stare at the daunting blank canvas, I am determined to see my completed bell hanging alongside all the others when they go on display in just a few short weeks.

To learn more about the Holiday Sleigh Bell Contest, contact Becky Gebhart of Picture This at (513) 934-0416. I also encourage all Hamilton and Warren County families to attend the 21st Annual Historic Christmas Festival and Horse Drawn Carriage Parade on Saturday, December 5. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays with your neighbors. For more information about the Festival and all upcoming events in Lebanon, visit the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce website at:

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns about any state-related matter. You can reach my office by phone at (614) 466-9737, by e-mail at or by writing State Senator Shannon Jones, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215. I look forward to hearing from you.
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