That’s A Wrap On Valley Santa
Nearly 4,000 children in need throughout Luzerne County received Christmas presents today thanks to hundreds of donors and volunteers for the Valley Santa program.
The program, now in its 35th year, is sponsored by The Citizens’ Voice and the Standard-Speaker newspapers, the City of Wilkes-Barre, Boscov’s and M&T Bank.
It relies on donations to purchase Christmas gifts for children whose families could not afford to buy them.
Fundraisers were held during the holiday season throughout Luzerne County to raise money for Valley Santa.
Among them, a benefit held at Rodano’s on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre raised $6,000.
Luzerne County employees recently participated in an Ugly Sweater Day that raised $485 for Valley Santa.
It marked the third year for the fundraiser, said Sandy Shaw, executive assistant in the Luzerne County Office of Law and coordinator of the event. Employees in many different county departments participated.
“It was good for the morale of employees and it’s going for a good cause,” Shaw said recently. “We wanted to benefit the local citizens and children of Luzerne County.”
Luzerne County manager David Pedri, who wore a red and green Christmas suit for the fundraiser, said everybody tried to outdo each other with the “ugliest and most audacious sweater they possibly could.”
“We’re thrilled to support a local charity,” Pedri said.
Letters from families who needed help purchasing toys for their children were published in the newspapers each day throughout the holiday season. The names of family members were changed to maintain anonymity.
Each child in need received a toy and a book. The University of Scranton donated many of the books.
The Valley Santa program is modeled after Globe Santa, the Boston Globe’s annual appeal for needy children that has been collecting money from readers to purchase holiday gifts for children in need in the Boston area since 1956.
Attorneys Ruth and Kim Borland have been the coordinators of Valley Santa since its inception.
Hundreds of people began volunteering in early November to read letters from families in need at the Greenhouse Center in Wilkes-Barre and to shop for and wrap toys for children at Boscov’s in Wilkes-Barre.
Volunteers shopped for toys early Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, wrapped Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights and read letters from families in need on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
“There are a lot of people, more than any other year, who are there every night,” Attorney Kim Borland said. “We’ve always had six or seven letter readers who were there every night. Now, we have 12 or 13 who are there two nights. There are about 12 shoppers who are there every single time.”
On Wednesday morning last week, Attorney Ruth Borland said she and other volunteers shopped for toys for about 200 children in need at Boscov’s. She said many people were very generous this year in donating to the program.
“There are so many checks coming in,” she said.
Donations are still being accepted and may be mailed to The Valley Santa Fund Inc., P.O. Box 5276, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711, or dropped off at any M&T branch.
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