Sunday, November 10, 2013

Holiday Drive Kicks off 26th Year

Submitted photo

Toy donations are collected at the Dana plant in Pottstown for the annual holiday drive.

Organizers are gearing up for the 26th annual holiday toy and food drive to benefit under-priviledged families and donations of toys, food and funds are being sought.

Organizer Jim Frymoyer, who began the tradition as a member of the Moose Lodge and is now continuing it with the help of the Manatawny Association and the Fraternal Order of Eagles No. 626, said last year’s drive helped 59 families and the goal this year is to help 65.

“Overall, we’re hoping to touch the lives of 332 people,” he said.
Frymoyer stopped by The Mercury last week.

The effort has several moving parts, with some families getting a food basket with a ham, a turkey, eggs, milk, potatoes and more as well as toys for the children; some families just receiving toys for the children and a holiday part at the Norco Firehouse on Dec. 21; and two scholarships being given out, one in honor of Frymoyer’s son, who died this year of pneumonia.

There are also numerous sponsors as well as numerous ways and places the community can lend a hand.

One of the more visible are the “Angel Trees” set up at 15 different locations in the wider community where either food, or toys or both can be donated.

Each tree has angels, each representing a boy or girl of a specified age and those who take an angel off the tree attach it to a toy to be donated.

Angel trees are located at the following locations. All locations will accept toys and food donations unless otherwise noted:

• Dana Holding Corp.: 1040 Center Ave., Pottstown;

• Fraternal Order of Eagles No. 626: 924 South St., Pottstown;

• Ivy Inn, 7 Brookline Blvd, Havertown;

• Manatawny Association, 20 King St., Pottstown;

• Piazza Honda, 629 N. Lewis Road, Limerick;

• Piazza Hyundai, 84 Auto Park Blvd., Limerick;

• Sea Star Solutions, 640 Lewis Road, Limerick;

• Sign Krafters, 1392 Ben Franklin Highway, Douglassville (food only);

• T & N Hair Salon, 1220 N. Hanover St., Pottstown (food only);

• Tim’s Ugly Mug Bar & Grill, 1281 E. Main St., Douglassville (toys only);

• Traffic Planning & Design, 2500 E. High St., No. 650, Pottstown;

• Tri-County Toyota, 15 D & L Drive, Limerick (toys only);

• U.S. Axle, Inc., 275 Shoemaker Road, Pottstown;

• Vito’s NY Style Pizza and Grill, 569 W. High St., Pottstown (food only);

• Spring-Ford Diner, 55 E. Bridge St., Spring City (toys only).

Monetary donations can be mailed to James Frymoyer, project coordinator, at 422 Upland St., G-1, Pottstown, PA 19464 and those donations earmarked for toys, food or the scholarship should be noted as such. Those who wish to volunteer should call 484-363-0638.

A pile of freshly wrapped presents made many children happy last year.
Frymoyer said the families who benefit are selected by children and youth agencies in all three counties, as well as by some of the businesses which sponsor the drive and by organizations such as Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, The Cluster of Religious Communities and VNA Hospice.

Former district judge John Durkin helped Frymoyer get connected with the children and youth agencies, Frymoyer said, adding he gets a lot of help from prime sponsors like both Piazza car dealerships, Tri-County Honda, and those who help anyway they can, such the United Auto Workers No. 644, with whom Frymoyer worked for many years at Dana, and Diamond Credit Union, which last year gift wrapped the 750 to 800 toys that were given away.

“I’ve had people come up to me and donated a toy, telling me that their son or daughter wanted one of their Christmas presents to go to a needy child, it can be really heart-wrenching,” Frymoyer said.

Equally as heart-wrenching is the death of a child, something Frymoyer underwent this year with the passing of his son, James Frymoyer Jr., a 1997 graduate of Pottsgrove High School.

It is in his name that one of the two scholarships will be given to a Pottsgrove High School football player. The other will be given to a Perkiomen Valley High School football player chosen by coach Scott Reed, whose cousin, the late Shawn Reed, played football at the former St. Pius X High School, graduating in 2000.
Submitted Photo

Jim Frymoyer with some of the food baskets packed up for delivery at the Manatawny Association last year.

The scholarship fund will give out $6,500 from money that was collected last year.

The money collected this year will go to a scholarship for a Spring-Ford High School athlete in the name of former Mercury Sports Editor Don Seeley, a Spring-Ford alum who died this year shortly after retiring more than 30 years covering sports in the Pottstown area.

“When my son was sick, Don called me every day to check on him,” Frymoyer said.

The holiday effort will culminate late in the year when the food baskets are distributed from the Manatawny Association on Dec. 20 and the holiday party is held for 150 children and their families on Dec. 21.

“We’ve got balloons, face-painting, country singer Stephanie Grace is going to sing, a magician, hot dogs, pizza, soda, cup cakes and ice cream — and of course, Santa,” Frymoyer said.

“They’re just doing great work,” Pottstown Mayor Bonnie Heath said Wednesday of the undertaking and the party, which she and Borough Council President Stephen Toroney attended last year.

“It’s a great thing they’re doing,” echoed Council Vice President Jeff Chomnuk.

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