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Holiday spirit abounds at Scottdale businesses

| Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, 12:39 p.m.
Rachel Basinger | For The Independent-Observer
Carson’s Tavern owner Jim Carson and tavern manager Kerri Livengood are hoping their toy collection for Toys for Tots picks up over the next week.
Rachel Basinger | For The Independent-Observer
Dr. David Cobb accepts a toy from patient Sherry Koch of Scottdale. He and fellow dentist Dr. Frank Aiello in Scottdale are accepting toys for Toys for Tots in exchange for a free dental exam for their patients.

Some Scottdale businesses are doing their part once again to help ensure that every child has a gift to open this Christmas.

Drs. Frank Aiello and David Cobb have been collecting toys for the Toys for Tots program for more than 30 years in exchange for a free dental exam to their patients. Jim Carson, owner of Carson's Tavern, is once again teaming with the Southmoreland Middle School to collect toys for the United States Marine Corps' charity.

Kerri Livengood, manager at Carson's Tavern, said the business has been collecting toys for four or five years, but have teamed up with the students for the last three.

She said the wife of Brian Pritts, the sixth-grade team adviser at the middle school, used to work at the tavern and Pritts decided he wanted to help with the toy collection.

“He (Jim Carson) really got this going and then we jumped on board to support him,” Pritts said.

He added all of the students in the middle school are working to collect toys. Carson is hoping they pull through, because collections at his business are way down from where they usually are.

“The great thing about this is that it's about the kids and we want to make sure all kids have the opportunity to open a gift at Christmas,” Pritts said.

Both groups will be collecting toys until Dec. 18 for those individuals who might like to donate.

Aiello and Cobb have been collecting for the charity since they moved their business to Scottdale in 1981.

Aiello said the patients continue to ask for the option every year and they usually have good participation.

“This gives our patients the opportunity to participate and in exchange, we help them save a couple of dollars,” he said. “We're suckers for kids. Who wants to see a little one go without on Christmas? The thought just breaks your heart.”

The dentists also are very patriotic and look forward to supporting the Marines with this charity.

“We want to be able to support the Marines in extending good memories and some happy times around the holidays,” Aiello said, adding they usually fill two to three big boxes with toys for the Marines.

He said he will never forget the time a young mother began unloading toy after toy out of her car to donate.

“She told me that her child had received a gift from Toys for Tots every year for five years and now she was doing well and wanted to give back,” Aiello said. “And that's why we do this. That's what it's all about.”

Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer.