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Christmas Gifts for Children Program Reaches 3,000+ Area Youth

PIKETON--It was another amazing year for volunteers running the 2017 Christmas Gifts for Children Program at Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth (FBP) in Piketon. Thanks to coordinators, volunteers and donations, more than 3,000 children from needy families in our communities had a much happier Christmas. At the Portsmouth site, it’s more than just a program; it’s a 25-year tradition where employees, individuals, families and businesses all chip in to help the less fortunate. As a result, it’s also one of the most widely adored events of the year, tugging at heartstrings between those who give and those who receive.

Thanks to coordinators, volunteers and donations, more than 3,000 children from needy families in our communities had a much happier Christmas. More than 40 volunteers served as coordinators for the 32 different local schools and 14 child support agencies (children’s services, homeless shelters, etc.). Some of the volunteers included (from left), Gretchen Fisher (Portsmouth Mission Alliance), Vicki Pierron (Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth), Dominica Hannah (FBP), Laura Blankenship (PMA), Gary Crandall (FBP), Christi Gambill (FBP), Nelson Bernardo (FBP), Jodi Jenkins (FBP), Wayne Baker (FBP) and Ellen Stone (FBP). Photo credit: Michelle Teeters

In order to complete such an endeavor which spreads across several counties (Adams, Jackson, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Greenup, Ky.), coordinators locate a venue to display the tags containing children’s Christmas wishes. Some of the venues include areas on and off site, reaching into the lives of shoppers who joyfully purchase gifts for children in need. Any unclaimed tags are handled by the numerous volunteers who use donated funds to shop for these remaining children. During the year, several fundraisers are held at the site to help raise the money needed to buy gifts so that none of these children fall between the cracks. Every child should be able to enjoy Christmas, regardless of the circumstances.

Gary Crandall is president of the Christmas Gifts for Children Program and is a Systems Engineer for FBP.

“This year, a grandmother contacted us for help after finding our Facebook page. Her adult children have all been involved with drugs and in and out of jail and she is trying to raise her three young grandchildren by herself. After giving her a big bag of Christmas gifts for each of the children, we offered her a turkey, but she said that she didn’t have an oven that worked to cook it in.  Luckily, the hams we had were pre-cooked, so she was very thankful to receive one of them,” Crandall said. 

“The kids were adorable and gave me plenty of neck-breaking hugs and kisses on my cheeks when they saw all of the gifts we had provided. Since then, the grandmother has texted me several times, thanking us again and again for the food, clothing and toys for the children.”

More than 40 volunteers served as coordinators for the 32 different local schools and 14 child support agencies (children’s services, homeless shelters, etc.).  The coordinators obtained the names of these most needy children which were then cross-referenced to prevent duplication.  More than 100 additional names were added to the program as a result of families calling in to the plant requesting help for their children.

FBP’s Dominica Hannah, who works in Labor Relations and volunteers as a coordinator, said this year’s deliveries were different.

“The experience this year was rather different than my past three--definitely more emotional,” Hannah said. “During the delivery, the school’s counselor shared a brief story that really touched my heart. She gave me a glimpse of what a day in some of these families looks like. It’s a sad reality, but something that made me feel better was when she talked about how excited these kids would be on Christmas day. It was the perfect reminder of why we truly do this and made me very thankful that we have so many giving people.”

Mary Ellen Rooney, FBP, volunteered as a coordinator for two Scioto County schools.

“We loaded presents for 64 kids onto my husband’s trailer to deliver to the school and I followed behind to ensure that no presents were blown away. We were greeted by the school’s secretary and principal and they helped unload the gifts to a secured classroom. They [Jody Lucas and Foresta Shope] were so appreciative of our program and the support we provided the Sciotoville community. I know we have touched many families with the Christmas Gifts Program who otherwise would not have had a Christmas!” Rooney said.

In addition to the fundraisers, several contractors working at the site and many local businesses, organizations and individuals provided donations to help fund the Christmas Gifts for Children Program. Combined with about $15,000 raised by site employees through the fundraisers, these donations added up to more than $47,000 for the 2017 Christmas Gifts for Children Program.  All of these funds were needed to buy Christmas gifts for these children. Since 2011, the Christmas Gifts for Children Program has provided gifts for more than 18,000 disadvantaged children.

Fluor Corporation (NYSE: FLR) and BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT) (NYSE: BWXT), two world-class companies with significant Ohio experience, formed Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth LLC (FBP) to address the decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) needs at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Portsmouth Site in Pike County, Ohio. CH2M, another global leader in industrial and environmental projects, provides support. Fluor-BWXT employs 1,900 workers who bring unparalleled experience, insights, and lessons learned from across the DOE complex. The Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth mandate is to clean up the Portsmouth Site safely and compliantly, provide strong uranium stewardship and partner with local communities to achieve a sustainable economic future. For more information, visit www.fbportsmouth.com.

Dominica Hannah and John Morton of Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth’s Labor Relations load presents bound for Peebles. Photo credit: Michelle Teeters

Engineering’s Mary Ellen Rooney (Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth) prepares for the journey to Sciotoville with the presents wrapped and ready.

Employees at Pike County’s Community Action pose with Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth’s Carah Husk (far right) with gifts to be delivered to nearly 50 children in the community. Photo credit: Michelle Teeters

Shown are just half of the presents delivered to the children in the Lucasville Valley school district this year as part of the Christmas Gifts for Children program. Photo credit: Gary Crandall