Bowling: Jingle Bell Bowl a special gift for the community

Volunteers do face painting for party guests at Jingle Bell Bowl. DEBBIE JUNIEWICZ / CONTRIBUTED
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Volunteers do face painting for party guests at Jingle Bell Bowl. DEBBIE JUNIEWICZ / CONTRIBUTED

Sometimes the jolly old elf is met with a silent wide-eyed stare, other times it’s a shy smile. There are big bear hugs and, occasionally, a tear or two. But when the colorful wrapping paper is a crumpled wad and a new toy is in hand, ear-to-ear grins are inevitable.

It’s those moments that make Jingle Bell Bowl so special. Jingle Bell Bowl was established two decades ago as a community bowling event designed to brighten the holiday season for local children and their families. Thousands of children have attended the event and hundreds of volunteers have helped bring the magic of the holiday season to those families.

This year was no exception as Capri Lanes again played host to more than 120 children and their families for a day of bowling, sweet treats, a hearty meal and, of course, a visit and picture with Santa.

Families from Homefull packed the lanes. Homefull, an organization that assists more than 600 people daily, provides a comprehensive continuum of services designed to help people find and keep jobs and homes.

“We are so appreciative each and every year for the support of the Dayton bowling community,” said John Patterson, Homefull chief development officer. “It is truly amazing how everyone comes together to help the families that we work with and to bring a smile to the children’s faces.”

Thanks to the generosity of the Bowling Proprietors Association of Greater Dayton and the Greater Dayton United States Bowling Congress, no child left without a present. But it wasn’t just the kids who had something to smile about Saturday.

“I do it for the smile of a child — it sounds cliché, but it’s true,” event photographer Jeff Unroe said. “Jingle Bell Bowl provides the opportunity for those parents and their children who might never get a chance to bowl or visit Santa to come and have some fun for a day. I want to walk in the footsteps of Christ and show my own children this is how I choose to give back and that it is important to help those who sometimes can’t always help themselves.”

Treats from Ashley’s Pastry Shop and a home-style meal, courtesy of the Capri Lanes staff meant no one left without a full belly. The Wright State University and Alter High School bowling teams, along with GDUSBC Youth Leaders, were instrumental in making the holiday magic happen on the lanes.

“At Alter, giving back — or as I refer to it as teaching life lessons — is important,” Alter bowling coach Bob Galpin said. “It was great to see the young people having a good time.”

Jingle Bell Bowl goes on the Raiders season schedule every year just like the tournaments. Wright State bowlers have been participating in the event for the past eight years.

“It’s important for our athletes to give back to the bowling centers and the community because of the fantastic support we get from them all season long,” Raiders coach Jeff Fleck said.

Although finding the right words is my job, it is difficult to put into words how grateful I am to the bowling community and my dear friends and family for making Jingle Bell Bowl such a special event. From wrapping presents and welcoming guests to serving food and creating face-painting masterpieces, I couldn’t have done it without you. A heartfelt thank you and Merry Christmas to all my elves.

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