A long-time Brooke County tradition is continuing, thankfully, and it's helping some families in need feel that Christmas spirit.
Bernie Kazienko, the late Brooke County sheriff and county commissioner, was known for many acts of kindness, least of which was his yearly Christmas drive endeavor affectionately called Bernie's Kids. Through his project area children were provided toys for the holidays.
It was approximately a year ago when the Tri-State Area lost Bernie, but thanks to the efforts of his family and friends, as well as local churches, schools and businesses, Bernie's Kids continues.
Bernie was inspired by his late uncle, Hillman "Izzy" Isinghood, who collected and repaired old toys for underprivileged children. Now Bernie's son, Kirk, and others are leading the way and carrying on the toy drive tradition.
Volunteers with the Bernie's Kids project accept new or gently used toys, and volunteers say they were expecting to provide gifts to approximately 160 area children this Christmas.
While many of the toys and even some coats and hats have been delivered, it's never too late to donate to this worthy cause. Organizers have said any new monetary donations will be applied to next year's effort.
From students and faculty at Bethany College, to teens who are a part of the Brooke High School Leo Club, and members of the St. John Catholic Church, many community groups held fundraisers in preceding months, all in an effort to help "Bernie's Kids."
We commend Kirk Kazienko and the many, many family members and caring volunteers who have opted to donate their time and efforts to the Bernie's Kids project.
We agree with Kirk, when he said, "This was the best way to keep my dad's spirit alive and do something beneficial for the community."
It's wonderful endeavors such as this that make the Ohio Valley so very special.