Mother, son make season bright for children in Pa.

December 20, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

Editor's note: This series over the 12 days before Christmas recognizes those individuals and groups that make the holidays better for others.

GREENCASTLE, PA. - Since 1987, the Greencastle Exchange Club has been buying toys for needy kids at Christmas. Since then, Michael Bock and his mother, Barbara, have been in charge of the effort.

The club's 27 members - mostly local business owners and retirees - meet for breakfast every Thursday morning at a local restaurant. The club focuses its efforts on helping youth in the community.

One recent night, the Bocks and other club volunteers roamed the toy department at a Wal-Mart store and bought $5,000 to $6,000 worth of toys to be delivered to about 85 children in the Greencastle-Antrim Township areas.


"Last year, we helped about 35 families," Michael Bock said.

The year before, there were more than 40 families, he said.

The club relies on the Greencastle-Antrim School District to come up with the names of families who need help at Christmas.

"You'd be surprised at how many poor families there are around," Michael Bock said. "Ten years ago, we went into a home that had a dirt floor. Seeing something like that makes you realize how good you have it."

Bock said he wants his sons, Ian, 14, and Eli, 10, to realize how lucky they are, so they always take part in the toy program. They go along on the shopping trip and, along with Exchange Club members, help wrap the toys.

The Bocks coordinate the project every year, line up the club volunteers, set up buying teams and head out to the store. Most of the shopping is done in one night, including buying the paper to wrap the toys.

Barbara Bock said club members contact the families to find out which toys to buy for their children.

"We get their names and ages and try to get as specific as we can," she said.

The big toy choices this year were Spider-Man for the boys, and Dora the Explorer and Barbie dolls for girls, she said.

Barbara Bock is president of the Greencastle Borough Council. Her son owns Total Energy Services in Chambersburg, Pa. He has held the presidency of the Exchange Club two other times.

Tuesday: Jan McCarter of Saint Mary's Catholic Church

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