Pine Bush business plays Santa for two families
While some families planned to open big-ticket presents like computers, iPads, and the latest must-have items, others in the community found themselves putting on a brave face this Christmas, expecting to celebrate the holiday like Tiny Tim’s family in the Christmas Carol—simply by spending time with each other.
For a couple of those families however, their Christmas this year had a surprise storybook ending.
On Sunday, Dec. 23, two local families looked out their windows to see a train of cars led by decorated sweepers from East Coast Industrial Services of Pine Bush pulling up in front of their homes, loaded with presents, Santa’s helper and his elves.
Freeann McManus, a single mother of two young girls, was overcome with emotion as her daughters excitedly unwrapped various toys and exclaimed over shiny new bicycles at the caravan’s first stop. The girls wrapped their small arms around Santa and didn’t want to let go, thanking him and drawing pictures for him.
“I don’t think a one of them ever owned a bicycle,” said Jay Presutti, owner of East Coast Industrial Services. “The families were very shocked, very grateful and very, very happy.”
After leaving the McManus family, the caravan made its way to Phillipsport where they delivered presents to the Williams family. The father, who has been on disability for the last 12 years due to a work-related construction accident, thanked Presutti for the unexpected support which provided a memorable Christmas for his three children.
Presutti said the two families had been given a head’s up that someone was going to stop by with a few gifts, but the scale of what arrived shocked both families to tears.
Presutti said he was involved in a similar effort years ago as president of a motorcycle club and over the past few months had been tossing around the idea of doing something similar with the business. With the economy, he and his wife had been on the fence about doing it, but recent events in Newtown, CT “pushed them over the edge.”
“In the wake of the tragedy it pushed us from thinking about the plan to making it happen,” said Presutti, adding that they hoped their efforts would make the world a little better.
They obtained the names of the two families from the local school nurse and the Town of Crawford, and proceeded to shop, wrap and divvy up presents over the course of four days. Presutti estimated they spent over $2,000 between the two families, providing five children with their own bicycles and a bevy of toys. A Christmas dinner was provided to one family and the parents also received gifts including scarves, gloves, candles, blankets and clothes.
“We didn’t save the world, but we gave a couple kids a Christmas to remember,” said Presutti.
In just a couple of short hours, the volunteers from the Pine Bush business brightened the holidays for not just two families, but their own as well. Santa’s helpers went home with smiles on their faces and a desire to do it all over again.
“The guys had a great time. They came out on their own to deliver and it put a smile on their faces,” said Presutti, noting that their employees had volunteered their time to make the event possible.
“We’re going to try to do it every year. So many families need help,” said Presutti, adding that they hope to add another family next year and narrow their focus to families in the Pine Bush area. “We’re going to make it bigger and better.”
By RACHEL COLEMAN