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Another Successful 'Christmas Crusade' Concludes

by and on December 22, 2013 2:00 PM

To provide Christmas cheer, magic and hope to children in need, the Centre County Youth Service Bureau and Magnum Broadcasting recently wrapped up the fourth annual Christmas Crusade for Kids program.

From Nov. 18 to Dec. 18, Qwik Rock, WBLF and WPHB radio stations reached out to their listeners, asking for help in making the wishes of about 500 children involved in YSB services come true this Christmas.

Andrea Boyles, YSB CEO, said throughout the month radio personalities share information about a child, along with his or her Christmas list, all to make their Christmas wishes come true.

“The goal is in terms of experiences. We want to make sure that every one of these kids gets one thing that they really want for Christmas,” she says. “We’re trying to make sure that kids have that experience. I really wish for this to come true.”

Once a story and list was shared, Boyles said radio listeners called in and either purchased gifts or made monetary donations to adopt a child. Though most people chose to go out and purchase gifts for a specific child, one anonymous donor dropped off a $1,000 check as a way to meet the needs of children.

WBLF morning show host Jerry Fisher said the beauty of donations like this is community members understanding and recognizing the needs of Centre County children.

“There’s an awful lot of kids who don’t get what they want or what they wish for and this is a way to help try to make those dreams come true,” he says.

With lists that include things like hairbands, Legos, nail polish and Matchbox cars, Fisher expresses how simple it is to make these dreams come true.

“These kids aren’t asking for the world, they are just asking for simple little things that will help make their day a little brighter on Dec. 25,” he says.

Boyles said in addition to community members, local businesses who served as drop-off locations for gifts made numerous monetary donations to the campaign. Many businesses even had employees who each adopted a child.

Fisher said being involved and seeing community members and businesses step up and create Christmas magic is very rewarding and benefits the Centre County greatly.

“We refer to our area as Happy Valley and I think a lot of times people don’t realize that there are 500 to 600 kids that are in need or are involved with the special programs that the YSB provides,” he says. “If nothing else, in getting these kids sponsored and helping to make their Christmas a little bit brighter, it also makes the community aware that there are a lot of kids in need.”

Boyles agrees, saying the campaign isn’t just about providing gifts. Instead, it is about providing children with hope.

“We do have needs. We definitely have families who are really struggling right now and need help. This is one more way to help,” she says. “This is a way to make sure they (the kids) get something they asked for. Really, I think the payoff isn’t about the present. It’s about that experience and about kids realizing that wishes do come true sometimes. There is a lot of hope in this campaign for us.”

Through Christmas Crusades for Kids, YSB and the three radio stations helped to provide gifts for a wide spectrum of ages. Fisher said this year, children range from two months to 17-years-old.

“The spectrum is very wide and it’s very rewarding to know that the listeners of our radio stations and the people of the community are willing to reach into their pockets for a little extra change to help out kids from every age range to have a Merry Christmas.”

And though the campaign centers around Christmas, Boyles says it displays to residents that Centre County has a need, year-round. For YSB, one of the most important needs is to fill children with hope, something Christmas Crusades for Kids accomplishes.

“I really believe the most important thing we do at YSB is we make sure that kids know that they matter. I think when they know they matter and they know they are important, they do have hope,” she says. “We want to make sure we keep that alive in kids. Of course, we do that throughout the year, but this is a really fun way to do it.”

Keeping this spirit and hope alive is what Fisher says makes the campaign successful and joyful.

“The ability to give these kids a chance to smile and to feel good about this special day, the fact that you can bring a smile to their face is what it’s all about,” he says. “It’s about the kids.”

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This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Sam is a correspondent for the Gazette.
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