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Teamsters local delivers toys, food

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As snow sprinkled over Charleston early Monday morning, members of Teamsters Local 175 unloaded a red tractor-trailer at the main office of the Children's Home Society of West Virginia on Greenbrier Street.

By the end of the week, hundreds of boxes filled with food and toys from the truck will be delivered to the homes of needy children and families. This year's gifts are worth more than $17,000.

"Hundreds of families will have food and toys for Christmas that they might not otherwise have had," said Mary White, chief of operations for the Children's Home Society. The organization operates 13 facilities and emergency shelters throughout West Virginia to help needy and abused children.

Most of the gifts delivered on Monday will go to families in Kanawha County and surrounding counties, White said. "By the end of the week, they will almost all be gone.

"There are so many people who actually have nothing. When you show up at their doors, they get excited," she said. "Some kids get just as excited over getting Pop-Tarts as getting toys.

This is the 13th year of the Teamsters' gift project with Children's Home Society.

"It took the Teamster volunteers seven hours to buy all of these gifts, with two groups of people," White said. "They collect the money beforehand, then go out and buy all the gifts."

Each year, about 350 people show up at the Teamsters' hall in South Charleston for the annual Breakfast For Santa. Union members from all over the state attend the event.

"Most of us buy more things than our own families need. You get a great feeling giving to an organization like this," said Ken Hall, president of Local 175 and general secretary-treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The money raised by Local 175 has increased every year.

"We raised $10,000 in 2010, $15,000 in 2012 and well over $17,000 this year, including $10,000 worth of toys and $7,000 worth of food," Hall said.

"The Children's Home Society does such a good job, our members want to break our record every year."

"Breakfast For Santa also helps to teach our young kids. Some of them don't understand why some other kids don't get presents," Hall said.

"A lot of our retired members also work on this project every year."

The boxes and cartons of food delivered to the Children's Home Society on Monday morning included peanut butter, water, a variety of sodas, crackers, cereals, mustard and ketchup, spaghetti and pasta sauce, macaroni and cheese, peas, potatoes, beans and meatballs.

An array of toys included an Elmo doll, a children's riding horse and teddy bears, as well as a variety of dolls, trucks, play houses, children's jewelry, bracelets and sneakers.

Johnny Johnson, one of the people unloading the tractor-trailer, said, "I'm retired, after driving trucks during my career. I love it here."

"Every year it gets bigger and bigger," White said. "But by this afternoon, we will have it all organized and ready to begin delivering."

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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