When a Salvation Army volunteer asked her mother, who works at Diamond Drug Inc., whether those at the company’s Kolter Drive location would like to sponsor a family through the Treasures for Children program, Phylis Muir’s co-workers did just that — and then some.
All in all, those at the location bought gifts this year for not one family, but 11. They also bought for 14 individuals, including 13 children and one senior citizen.
Sponsored by The Indiana County Salvation Army and The Indiana Gazette, Treasures for Children has been collecting Christmas gifts for Indiana County residents in need for nearly 30 years. Last year, 1,200 individuals in Indiana County received gifts through the program.
This is the first time, according to Muir, that her company has pulled together in a large-scale effort. In 2012, one department at the pharmacy distribution center took part in the program
“I think it brings joy to them, to be able to help,” she said of her co-workers.
“Nobody wants to see a child go without anything. Nobody wants to see a child on Christmas that doesn’t get a present.”
Muir credits her daughter, Angie Hamryszak, and another soldier at The Salvation Army, Christy Ooten, with helping to make Diamond Drug’s generous mission a success.
“Between Angie and Christy, they responded with the needs and just kept going back and forth,” she said. “We built up and got a really nice amount of gifts.”
She also attributes the interest to the support of Diamond Pharmacy’s human resources director.
“I just got goose bumps when I would walk into the HR department and (the director) told me that we got another family,” she said.
Muir appreciated having an opportunity to see coworkers getting into the giving spirit. One group that she touched base with had decided to select two tags from a Treasures tree.
They were excited about all the gifts they bought for a newborn baby and teenage boy.
“It was like they were getting (the presents) themselves,” she said. “They were just beside themselves with what they were able to do as a group — and I’m sure all the other departments were.”
In addition to presents for children, parents and seniors, those sponsoring the families also will provide them with a holiday meal.
Giving back is nothing new for those at Diamond Drug, according to Muir.
“I work in a building with so many goodhearted people who help those in need,” she said, noting the company’s previous efforts to help fire victims and others in crisis.
“There’s always something going on and everybody’s always pulling together and putting in to help, so this was just one more thing.”
It’s interesting to note, Muir said, that those giving don’t always have a lot of extra resources. Others may remember times when they were struggling financially themselves.
“A lot of us, at one time or another in our lives, we’ve been touched,” she said. “We’ve needed when were younger and growing up. We needed help from other people. You remember those times.”
Muir hopes that getting the word out will inspire others by showing how easy it is to get involved as the sponsors of an individual or family and also by helping those facing financial hardship learn about the program.
She is also hopeful that other companies will be encouraged to get involved by seeing the success that Diamond Drug has had.
Muir and her coworkers are already looking ahead to next Christmas. It’s likely that they’ll take part in the Treasures program again.
“I’m almost 100 percent sure that next year will be even better,” she said.
Things to remember …
• It’s not too late to give.
Several hundred more families than last year have applied for the program, according to organizers, and new tags have recently been added to trees around the county.
The deadline to drop off gifts at tree locations is now Dec. 9.
• When returned to a tree location, gifts should be unwrapped (gift bags are OK) and marked with a tag that shows they are for the Treasures for Children program.
• Treasures for Children also accepts monetary donations.
Checks should be earmarked for The Salvation Army Treasures for Children Program and sent to or dropped off at 635 Water St., Indiana, PA 15701.
• Volunteers are needed to pick up gifts from more than 40 trees around the county.
Those doing pick up will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Indiana Gazette headquarters at 899 Water St., Indiana.
Anyone interested in volunteering should call Treasures for Children coordinator Linda Donnelly of the Gazette at (724) 388-3841.
• If you’ve taken a tag but find you don’t have time in the holiday rush to buy gifts, organizers stress that you can return that tag to a tree so another shopper or volunteer can take care of it.
• Families in need of assistance with gifts this year should contact The Salvation Army at (724) 465-2530 as soon as possible.
• The Salvation Army Treasures for Children is sponsored by the Gazette and runs with no administrative costs. All money donated goes to the program, which is run by volunteers.
Questions? Contact Donnelly at (724) 388-3841, The Salvation Army at (724) 465-2530 or the Gazette office at (724) 465-5555.
Inquiries can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.