Not The Beatles
A Girl Scout leader, a Polar Express elf and a couple who takes their dog, Molly, to visit sick children.
Tina Collins, Michael Babbitt and the Freys — Brent and Dot — are rock stars to kids throughout Northeast Ohio.
Whether they’re on a train, at camp or next to a hospital bed, these four have parlayed the remarkable power of volunteerism into service that’s both fulfilling and fun.
In many ways, Michael, Tina, Brent and Dot are like thousands of other 50-and-older Northeast Ohio residents who share their time and talents. Volunteering is important to them, and children hold a special place in their hearts.
Michael’s sparkling eyes and outgoing personality seem custom-made for his role as an elf-reader on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s annual Polar Express. He looks quite comfortable in his outrageously oversized Christmas hat and red shoes with toes that curl elaborately upward.
His elf job is riding the train with hundreds of excited children as they travel through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to the North Pole. He’ll ride on 14 trains between Nov. 11 and Dec. 21.
“There’s a role for everyone,” Michael says. “Some just want to serve hot chocolate, others write name tags and seat people.”
But all dress up in some fashion and ride the train or stand along the platform greeting children arriving at the North Pole.
No experience? No costume? No problem. “Volunteer once and you will become an expert,” Michael says. While most volunteers supply their own attire, Polar Express organizers have tunics to lend to North Pole elves.
Tina got involved with Girl Scouts when she was a girl, and then again when her daughters were young. She liked it so much that she has stayed with Scouting for two decades and counting, volunteering as an outdoor trainer and most recently as leader of high school girls in Troop 90146 out of Northfield....