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Community spirit, fellowship, generosity and what the true meaning of Christmas just may be about were found at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Ocean City on Friday afternoon. More than 150 people went to the church at 501 E. Eighth Street for a “Christmas Dinner Served by the Community.” People waited in a line for their free dinners of ham, green beans and sweet potatoes and desserts, all courtesy of local businesses.
Nancy and Bob McNamara joined friends Kathy and Tom Thompson in the kitchen at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Ocean City Tuesday morning. While Tom stuffed bags with chocolates and other confections, Bob did the dishes and Nancy and Kathy scooped healthy portions of coleslaw and applesauce into plastic cups to be stored in the refrigerator. The sides -- 300 of each -- would soon become part of a Christmas feast for anyone in the community struggling, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, or simply in need of some fellowship and a warm meal among friends.
The spirit of Christmas is alive and well in Ocean City – so much so that Santa decided to come for a visit days ahead of the holiday. Students at the Intermediate School had a pretty good idea the jolly man would be arriving. They filed out of the school and waited on Bay and Haven avenues and 18th Street to watch St. Nick glide into town atop a fire truck. “I think it is great to see him. It’s festive and gives everyone the holiday spirit,” exclaimed Ella Brunetti, 10, a fifth-grader.
Whether there was one more gift to get or a few, holiday shoppers took advantage of deals in Ocean City on the last weekend before Christmas. Rebecca and Michael Fitzgerald, of Absecon, headed downtown Sunday with their three daughters, Izabel, 7, Stella, 5, and 2-year-old Sylvia. The family walked in and out of stores and took advantage of the awnings lining the sidewalks on Asbury Avenue to get out of the rain and buy some gifts.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began back in March, the Ocean City school district has distributed thousands of free meals to the students in the district. And thanks to federal funding, the meals, which in the past were only offered to children who met the criteria for free and reduced-cost meals, both breakfasts and lunches have been and continue to be provided to all students who wish to take them. School Business Administrator Tim Kelley emphasized in a report to the Board of Education on Zoom Wednesday night that the meal program is working well.
In a move that saves a home that has stood on Wesley Avenue in Ocean City for more than a century, the Zoning Board upheld a decision to deny a demolition permit by its owners. The empty home at 615 Wesley Avenue is in the heart of the city’s Historic District, an area that roughly stretches between Third and Eighth streets and Central and Ocean avenues. Over the years, it fell into disrepair, the current owners, a group called RJGVB LLC of Shippensburg, Pa., wanted to tear it down to make way for a duplex. However, the city’s Historical Preservation Commission felt that the home, dating back to 1902, had historical significance and should be preserved and the Zoning Board agreed in its decision via Zoom on Wednesday...
The Ocean City Free Public Library is hosting a virtual event with Debbie Macomber, as the featured speaker at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29 on Zoom. To register for the event go to https://tinyurl.com/ybkqpk2g. Macomber, author of A Walk Along the Beach, Window on the Bay, Cottage by the Sea, Any Dream Will Do, If Not for You, and the Rose Harbor Inn series, is a leading voice in women’s fiction...
The Ocean City School District continues to work on ways to remain open for hybrid learning. Over the last few weeks there have been adjustments to scheduling and upgrades are taking place to technology, which could eventually allow for livestreaming in all classrooms. But the latest addition to the school operations during the pandemic is the formation of a COVID-19 committee. That was the main focus of a Board of Education meeting on Wednesday conducted by Zoom and teleconference. In a report, board member Dr. Patrick Kane, chairman of the newly formed COVID-19 committee, said the district has heard the concerns from parents and students.
The Ocean City Free Public Library has been a hub of activity, offering education, entertainment and company to its patrons year after year. While COVID-19 has changed how the library enlightens its visitors, from shortened in-person hours to virtual sessions, it still will remain open to the public, explained library officials during a remote meeting of the OCFPL Board of Trustees on Monday. Unlike county libraries, including Cape May County and Atlantic County libraries that recently closed again amid the pandemic, Karen Mahar, OCFPL director, said the library staff is doing well and all safety protocols have been in place and are working.
When Katie Bowman, of Ocean City, started Kookie Kids “Kids Helping Kids” five years ago, she was just 13. Katie, her mother, Jen, and sister, Kelsea, 15, along with other volunteers, bake cookies in the St. Peter’s United Methodist Church kitchen. Baking countless butter cookies during several sessions since the summer isn’t just something fun to do. Kookie Kids volunteers sell the confections at the Ocean City’s Farmers Market on Wednesdays during the summer and out of the church as well as take orders on the phone. All of the proceeds go to helping families in need.