The gift of giving: Girls on the Run works Festival of Lights

Drew Butler
dbutler@gannett.com
Girls on the Run of Southern Oklahoma Program and Office Coordinator Jodi Woydziak works the Festival of Lights with her husband Jason Woydziak, Ardmore Fire Department training officer and volunteer GOTR coach. This is the first year the organization has volunteered at the Festival of Lights.
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The Festival of Lights is still ongoing at Regional Park in Ardmore, and every evening a different nonprofit organization volunteers to work the event. The volunteers direct cars as they enter the drive through display and are there at the end of the drive to collect donations. On Friday night Girls on the Run of Southern Oklahoma were there, volunteering for their third and final night.

Program and Office Coordinator Jodi Woydziak was volunteering at the end of the drive along with her husband Ardmore Fire Department Training Officer and GOTR Volunteer Coach Jason Woydziak.

“This is actually our first time to volunteer at the Festival of Lights,” she said. “We’re really excited to be here. It’s a beautiful night so far, and it’s so nice to be out here with all of the beautiful lights.”

Woydziak described the work Girls on the Run does.

“Girls on the Run is a social emotional after-school learning program for girls grades three through eight,” she said. “Our mission is to inspire girls to recognize their inner strength and celebrate themselves and their achievements. Trained coaches lead each team with research-based curricula, group discussions and physical activity.”

She said the program ran a bit differently than usual this this year because of the pandemic.

“We just ended our fall session, and it was very different this year,” Woydziak said. “We had smaller team sizes, so instead of 15 to 20 girls per team, we capped it had 12 per team. We also shorted the season to six weeks down from 10. We also changed some of the guidelines in order to social distance during our practices, and the girls and coaches had to wear masks when they weren’t running.”

She said to visit www.girlsontherunsouthernoklahoma.org to find out more information about Girls on the Run as well as who to volunteer, how to sign up, and how to make a donation.

Donations are also important at the Festival of Lights. Each night a different nonprofit organization volunteers at the event, and they get to split all of the donations collected with the Festival of Lights itself. These donations are especially important to nonprofit organizations this year because many have seen their collections drop because of the pandemic.

The Festival of Lights will run through December 30, and it is open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Going through on different evenings allow you to make donations to different and deserving local nonprofits.

To further spread holiday cheer, The Ardmoreite is currently accepting donations that will be distributed to local children’s and family organizations along with area nursing homes. The pandemic has hit many locals hard, and this year more people than ever are currently in need.

A large donation box will be set up outside The Ardmoreite Monday through Friday during business hours where we will be accepting new toys for children as well as older teens through December 22. We will also be accepting new winter clothes and blankets for people of all ages and sizes through the end of December. In addition to clothing, toiletries are some other much needed items.