Greencastle Exchange Club helps Santa reach local school children

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Greencastle Exchange Club members used every space available in a volunteer’s kitchen to wrap the many gifts purchased for children.

What do you get when you spend $10,000 in three hours at Walmart, with four registers set aside for the 15 volunteers to push the carts through the next hour, then 30 people wrap 900 presents in two and a half hours using 3,000 square feet of colorful paper?

Greencastle-Exchange Club members know the answer. Two-hundred-five children in 77 families in Greencastle-Antrim School District have a merry Christmas.

The project is the culmination of a year of fundraising to bring some joy to families who are having a tough go. It brings satisfaction to the members who all share in some way to bring the huge undertaking to fruition.

“This is one of the main reasons I’m in the club,” said Kelly Mower. “I can’t imagine growing up without presents, even though that is not the true reason for Christmas. It means a lot to the little guys.”

When she and her husband delivered a bag of gifts to one family, a small girl at the door said, “Look mommy, I’m going to have presents this year.”

The two were brought to tears as they returned to their car.

Member Cathy Nicastro said most families are very grateful for the donations. The club buys four items for each child in primary or elementary school, using names provided by the school district. If there are teenage siblings, they get a $50 gift card. The families make suggestions on what the children would like, and Exchange tries to make those hopes come true.

The toys are stored at Nicastro’s home, supplanting vehicles in the garage for a couple weeks. Then a crew shows up to wrap and put the gifts into black bags for each family, using a careful record system.

LuAnn Skutch arrived during the wrapping session. Walking to the front door, she was impressed by the view through the windows.

“It looked like Santa’s workshop.”

And the task was two-fold. “It takes almost as long to bag as to wrap.”

Saturday, Dec. 17, the gifts were distributed to the families. Club members said most received them warmly. And each year, someone calls to say their fortune has turned, an unemployed parent got a job, for instance, so please find another family to support.

“I love this,” concluded Mower. “It’s the best project in the world. To give back is a wonderful thing.”