Community Gem: Christmas program started by Karl Keith brings joy to children

Karl Keith’s commitment to providing Christmas presents to children at Rosa Parks Early Learning Center has brought joy to countless students for nearly two decades.
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Karl Keith’s commitment to providing Christmas presents to children at Rosa Parks Early Learning Center has brought joy to countless students for nearly two decades.

DAYTON — Karl Keith’s commitment to providing Christmas presents to children at Rosa Parks Early Learning Center has brought joy to countless students for nearly two decades.

Keith was nominated as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem by Mike Brill, who works for him in the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office.

“About 20 years ago, the newly-sworn-in Auditor Karl Keith was searching for a holiday project to give back to the community. He came up with the idea of raising money and purchasing Christmas presents for the students at Gorman School, the only school in the state dedicated solely to educating students with disabilities. When Gorman closed, and the students were combined with Rosa Parks School, Karl had to redouble his efforts to raise even more money to purchase presents for the even larger number of students,” Brill said.

Keith said the partnership has grown to include other activities such as helping secure playground equipment and school supplies.

“Thanks to the generosity of my staff and others who have supported this effort, providing gifts for the children and experiencing the joy and excitement on their faces when we deliver their presents is still the highlight of our relationship with the school,” Keith said.

“Witnessing the efforts of the faculty and being able to recognize and support what they do is extremely rewarding,” he said. “Being an elected official puts me in a position to see others who do amazingly unselfish acts every day to improve our quality of life and make this a better community. I think part of my role as a leader is to support and encourage others who are making a positive difference in the community.”

Keith encourages staff to raise money for the project with a popular activity being money contributed to dressing casually at work, Brill said. “Employees also devote their free time to shopping for and wrapping presents for the kids. Every December, members of Karl’s staff dress up as Santa and his elves to hand out presents to every student at Rosa Parks. For some, this may be the only present they receive during the holiday,” he said.