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Thousands of Helping Hands

Syracuse Area Services | sasyr.org | Vol . 40, No. 1 Winter 2020

When you walk into The Oncenter on Christmas Bureau Distribution Day, you see thousands of people, thousands of toys, and thousands of food items. It’s a day that comes together because of the extremely generous community that we live in. Nearly 10,000 people are able to have a holiday meal. Nearly 10,000 people are able to bring home gifts and stockings to put under the tree. Nearly 10,000 people are able to feel the Christmas magic. They’re able to do all that – because of you.

Some of the volunteer work that makes Distribution Day happen is obvious. It’s noticed right when you walk through the doors. There are personal shoppers helping clients pick out gifts for their children. There are food assembly line volunteers making sure each food basket has items like soup, ravioli, apples, oranges, potatoes, bread, milk, and pumpkin pie. And while these types of volunteers are the reason Distribution Day is able to happen, and are no less important, there’s other people working completely behind the scenes too.

For instance, Chairman and CEO of The Hayner Hoyt Corporation, Gary Thurston, has been Committee Chair of Christmas Bureau for more than ten years. He provides meeting space, resources, and 50 volunteers for the event every year. Wegmans Food Markets donates $80,000 worth of food to go in the Christmas food baskets. Delaney Worldwide spends multiple days helping with the manual labor before and after Distribution Day.

And that’s just to name a few.

Two other people you don’t see on Distribution Day are Dick Hollington and Bob Salvetti. The two men are retired UPS drivers. They became friends on the job decades ago. Now, they spend a part of their retirement, giving back, together.

“I think we both feel a sense of contributing back to the community,” said Hollington. “And how fortunate your life has been overall. There’s a degree of satisfaction in doing it and knowing you’re helping other people.”

Hollington and Salvetti wait for our call every year in November to inform them the big barrels for Food Drives are ready to be delivered to participating schools. They load up as many barrels as they can fit into the van and drive them all around town. Sometimes they have to load up the van four or five separate times. They make the deliveries in rain or shine, sleet or snow. To them, it’s no big deal. To us, it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle that ensures the big day will happen.

“We both continue to be amazed by other people who help out,” said Hollington. “We really don’t do anything. We’re amazed by other peoples’ volunteer work.”

Proving that thousands of people coming together - purchasing gifts, donating a can of soup, volunteering their time – are the reason thousands of others enjoy Christmas.