The holidays are a good time to remember the spirit of giving that can bring communities together.
In the nearly 40 years since Charles E. Smith and his wife founded the Lycoming County Toys for Tots, there have been many stories of giving – but this is one of Smith’s favorites.
It was the evening of Christmas Day and Smith got a call from a local Pizza Hut delivery man. He had just delivered a pizza to a family of five in a cramped motel room on Route 15 just outside of South Williamsport.
The family, which included three young children, had been evicted from their apartment in Montgomery.
The owner of the motel graciously allowed them to stay in a room for the holidays, but the family had little in the way of Christmas presents or even clothes to wear.
As the local coordinator for Toys for Tots, Smith was called and within two hours he and his wife had made enough calls to fill a pickup truck with donations of toys and clothes.
In an happy coincidence, the couple were participating in a Christmas event and were already dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Decked out in their red suits they jumped in the pickup full of gifts and headed to the Motel.
The children, who were crowded into their small two-bedroom motel room, peaked out the window and caught a glimpse of Santa Claus bringing Christmas joy.
There were so many boxes of toys and clothes that they wouldn’t all fit into the room. The Smiths were actually forced to leave a few boxes outside the door.
“That was a real deal that night,” Smith said. “I enjoyed it so much.”
For the Smiths, it was an opportunity to give to a family in need, and for the family, it was a Christmas miracle.