Families receive food, gifts from Salvation Army
Some of the best weather the Mon-Yough area has had in weeks greeted those who lined up for more than a block for the first of two days of toy and food giveaways at the McKeesport Salvation Army center.
With fair skies and temperatures in the 50s on Thursday afternoon, some of the 406 families expected to get aid from this year's two-day Army Christmas distribution.
That's down by 100 families from a year ago, the center's commanding officer and pastor Major Sean Barton said, “but we're serving it seems the same number of children.”
Barton has volunteers to help, along with the McKeesport center staff.
“My mom got me into this,” said volunteer Dylan Ernst, who has come to the center at 821 Walnut St. for the past three years. “I like doing it. It is fun helping people.”
Dylan is a senior at McKeesport Area High School. Volunteering is a family affair for Melissa Ernst and now two of her youngsters.
“My sister Alex usually is here but she was on a field trip (on Thursday),” Dylan said. Alex is a sixth-grader at White Oak Elementary School.
Barton said he sends letters to the Ernst siblings' respective schools asking to excuse them because they're volunteering.
The fair skies and a warming trend predicted to continue into the weekend is a far cry from much of what has faced other Salvation Army volunteers who ring the bells during the shortened red kettle season.
“We're going to be close,” Barton predicted. “I don't know if we are going to make what we did last year.”
But he expected the final total to be within $2,000 to $3,000 of a goal of $49,000. As of Monday the McKeesport total was just under $29,000.
Also as of Monday, kettles were down in service areas for the Braddock and Steel Valley centers. The Army has service units in Elizabeth, Irwin and Manor as well.
McKeesport Army officials said someone dropped a check for $1,000 in an area kettle. It was not known if the check will clear.
Kettles serving the McKeesport center are located at Giant Eagles along O'Neil Boulevard, in Oak Park Mall and in North Versailles Township, Shop'n Save at Olympia Shopping Center, World of Values in White Oak's Rainbow Village Shopping Center, and Wal-Mart, Big Lots and Kmart in North Versailles.
McKeesport's Salvation Army had toys, food and gift certificates for families from the old Tube City, as well as Glassport, Port Vue, Bunola, Coulter, White Oak, Boston, Greenock and North Versailles Township, Barton said.
“They'll get a box of food that contains a Christmas dinner, a $10 voucher for a turkey from the Shop'n Save and, basically, three toys per child,” center case manager Bruce Hall of Apollo said.
While the money donated to area red kettles goes toward the year-round operation of the respective centers, The Salvation Army in Southwestern Pennsylvania gets help for holiday dinners from another seasonal drive.
Hall worked for 11 years for Trib Total Media and his daughter works at its Newsworks in the North Hills. Trib Total Media includes The Daily News in McKeesport and sponsors Operation Santa Claus.
Operation Santa Claus works in conjunction with Shop'n Save/Supervalu and The Salvation Army in areas covered by Trib Total Media papers.
Trib Total Media has conducted Operation Santa Claus since 1984. It serves more than 7,000 families.
The operation's volunteers raise money to purchase canned fruits and vegetables, stuffing mix, scalloped potatoes, corn bread, crackers and sweet treats for the food boxes as well as the vouchers.
The goal for Operation Santa Claus this year is $120,000. Organizers say a $17.25 donation will pay for a dinner for a family of four.
More details on Operation Santa Claus are available at OSC.TribLIVE.com or by calling 724-838-5166.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- West Mifflin not getting Verizon FiOS anytime soon
- McKeesport Area Ministerium honors Matuch, Jones for community service
- School bus accident in Pleasant Hills sends 4 to the hospital
- N. Versailles commissioners likely to hold line on taxes