September 2, 2014

Elyria
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Regent students show their holiday generosity

ELYRIA — Christmas wasn’t coming to the Kozich house.

Bills were high, and money was tight. Things only got worse in October when 8-year-old Jazminn Kozich crashed her four-wheeler into a telephone pole and lost half of her teeth.

She was on a respirator for four days. Her wrist was broken, and she had to have reconstructive surgery, said her mother, Jennifer Kozich, 28, of Elyria.

“Insurance wouldn’t cover it. There was no money — I was going to have to explain to her that there would be no gifts under the tree,” she said.

Then, some Christmas elves made a special delivery.

Instead of Santa, though, these elves were working for Regent Preschool Director Anne Harper.

With the help of hundreds of donors from all over Northeast Ohio and Pennsylvania, Harper’s Morgan Avenue school was able to give

Kozich $375 for medical bills and presents for Jazminn and her brother, 5-year-old Cameron.

“Tears came into my eyes,” Kozich said. “The money doesn’t even matter. The love that I’ve been shown here is worth far more than anything else.”

Harper said she didn’t really mean to start a huge charity drive.

But when a 4-year-old student at the preschool told her in October that she had no books at home, she decided to help out.

Word spread to Bay Village bookseller Barbara Baird-Bryant, who sent a mass e-mail to hundreds of friends and associates.

It didn’t take long for shipments of donated books, food, clothing, cash, toys, furniture and bedding to start arriving on Morgan Avenue.

Harper said she was able to help the mother of a newborn who didn’t have a crib. She also found mattresses and bedsprings for a single father whose three children had been sleeping on the floor.

Another mother is facing foreclosure. Regent Preschool gave her $435 to help put winter coats, sports equipment and clothing under the Christmas tree.

By Friday, the school had helped five needy families with 15 children, Harper said.

“It’s not easy at the first of the month to pay rent and school bills. Parents have it hard,” she said. “You should have seen those parents. They were so grateful.”

The preschool is run by the Abundant Life Christian Center, which also runs the Angel Food ministry.

The program lets families buy food at low costs. For information, call (440) 322-1049.

Contact Jason Hawk at 329-7148 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.