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Making Christmas Memorable for Pike County Children

PIKETON, Ohio – For seven years in a row, volunteers from Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth (FBP) have joined Pike County Children’s Services and other organizations to help distribute gifts for children to families in need. Approximately 330 families signed up for the program in 2017, which resulted in Christmas presents being given to more than 800 children. Through their Community Commitment Fund, FBP donated $10,000 to the program to purchase gifts.

Preparing for the distribution of presents to those in need are volunteers and supporters. From left, Steph Althouse, Deneen Revel (Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth), Karen Minney, Heather Barnett, Janice Caughlan , Julie Lundy, Jamie Lundy, Al Reinke, Clint McCoy, Phyllis Amlin-Snyder, Tina Long and Bobbie Dietzel. Photo credit: Michelle Teeters

In order to be eligible, qualifying families must register in advance. On their assigned day, parents line up on the sidewalks outside the Pike Christian Academy High School, sometimes waiting for hours in the cold to ensure they’ll have gifts for their children on Christmas. When it’s their turn, patrons browse the aisles of toys and clothes that have been neatly organized inside the high school gymnasium. Many of the recipients are working families, with nothing left to spend on Christmas after paying rent and other bills.

Community Relations Specialist Deneen Revel, FBP, looks forward to helping with the event.

“Personally it makes me feel good to be able to help people who are down on their luck and need an extra hand,” Revel said.  “You can tell that everyone attending appreciates the help they are receiving.  Several of them wouldn’t be able to give their children anything without the assistance from the program.   Thinking back to when my boys were younger, and the lines I stood in to get the ‘trending toy” for the year, it humbles me to know that these parents stand in line just to be able to have a few toys underneath the tree for their children.”

Volunteers at the event get to help needy families select presents for their children to open for Christmas.

Phyllis Amlin-Snyder, co-chair for the Pike County Children’s Christmas Fund, is thankful for the donations and for the volunteers who have made the fund successful.

“This is very important to us because we see some of these families on a daily basis and we know that even if they’re working, they struggle to pay their utilities and to get food,” Amlin-Snyder said. “To have something extra at Christmas time just doesn’t happen for a lot of them. For some of these families, this is all these kids will get, so when we shop for them, it’s really personal for us. We want to make sure that we get nice things and things the kids will like.”

Each year, volunteers from General Electric offer refreshments, including hot chocolate and coffee to patrons while they wait.

The program has been in existence for 30 years. Children’s Services’ and Pike Community Action Inc. combined resources and have been in charge of the program for the past 13 years. Other than the gifts that are donated, the staff picks out all of the presents. Tina Long is one of the helpers.

“In the fall, we start getting the older kids’ stuff because there’s more of a selection for the different things that we buy. We take great pride in picking out the presents for them,” Long said.

“We start in October and try to keep it organized throughout, so when we come to put it together, it’s a matter of putting them into age groups and stacking it out for people. It makes it a lot easier. We’ve lived and learned how to do it better.”

“Everything is in bags marked by age group. When we check out at the store, Tina’s right there with me with the big bag and she marks it with a marker so that when we come over here, they’re unloaded into their spaces. We started at 8:30 this morning to bring things over and we were finished by noon, so we really do have it down to a science,” Amlin-Snyder said.

“The Christmas Fund really wants to thank Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth for continued financial support, as well as support received from the employees volunteering during the distribution efforts.”

In addition to toys, clothing and wrapping paper that were donated, there were 50 winter coats and more than 350 turkeys/hams available to families. Extra turkeys and hams were donated to the area food pantry and the Disabled American Veterans office in Waverly. The two-day event was held Dec. 18 and 19 at Pike Christian Academy High School, in Waverly.

Fluor Corporation (NYSE: FLR) and BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT) (NYSE: BWXT), two world-class companies with significant Ohio experience, formed 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 Portsmouth employs 1,900 workers who bring unparalleled experience, insights, and lessons learned from across the DOE complex. The FBP 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.

A long line of patrons forms outside Pike Christian Academy’s high school building.