With wish lists in hand, representatives of up to 20 companies filled up carts at Walmart with toys and clothes in hopes of making Christmas special for hundreds of children in need.
Cabot Oil & Gas hosts this annual holiday drive in partnership with the Interfaith organizations in both Susquehanna and Wyoming counties.
“Each year it’s grown tremendously,” said Bill desRosiers, manager of external affairs at Cabot. “Because the toy drive got so big, we started inviting our contractors here to Walmart to shop with us… We expect to have our best year yet.”
This year, desRosiers said the expectation was to purchase more than $20,000 worth of items, with Cabot contributing $5,000.
Volunteers spent Thursday morning shopping around for items specific to different age groups and interests.
Debra Tierney from the Northern Tier Industry and Education Consortium needed to look for toys related to the Disney movie ‘Frozen,’ while Rob Gorczyk from Cabot had toys such as a Nerf gun, train set and Minecraft Lego kit in his cart.
“It’s exciting to see how many people come out every year,” desRosiers said. “The more people that come out and enjoy doing this part of the drive just demonstrates the involvement, awareness and presence that all these companies, contractors and employees have in the community.”
Frank Tunis from Northeast Marcellus participated in the drive for the first time this year and looked forward to shopping for toys.
“There’s nothing better than seeing a smile on a kid’s face at Christmastime, especially kids that don’t have a lot,” Tunis said.
For families who struggle to make ends meet, these gifts could make all the difference, according to Executive Director of Susquehanna County Interfaith Cindy Beeman.
“It is amazing to see the parents’ relief because they’re not having to choose between providing a nice Christmas for their children and paying their bills,” she said.
Beeman added that communities are always stronger when people work together and commended companies that do not only look out for their own interests.
“Cabot and the vendors that they bring, they really look at the community and how they can support it, not at their bottom line,” she said. “It’s bigger than that, and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?”
After filling up their carts, the shoppers got in line at checkout lanes reserved for the toy drive. Once they made their purchases, they loaded up the gifts on a trailer.
Walmart manager Ricky Zehr hopes the children receiving these gifts know that the community cares about them.
“It’s a good feeling that we can rely on each other to take care of the community needs,” he said. “We want them to have a great Christmas, one that they can remember for years to come.”