As the saying goes, charity begins at home and in the case of the annual Gas Control Toy Drive organized by TransCanada employees in Charleston, it is quite literally true.
“My mother was a social worker 35 years ago. She noticed how many people in our area didn’t have food, much less a Christmas tree or any presents,” recalls Bill Christian, retired director of Gas Control in Charleston. “It actually started in my house and my grandmother’s house with a few bags of food and a few toys. We helped maybe a dozen people that first year. The year after that, it was 30.”
And in 2017, more than 400 individuals will find they have not been forgotten when they receive backpacks full of food for the holidays and a toy just for fun.
While the Toy Drive began in Christian’s home, it soon found roots in Gas Control. “We partner with a charitable organization, the Mustard Seed, to identify names and wish lists for kids in some of the less fortunate areas in the Kanawha Valley where TransCanada operates,” said Chris Davis, current director of Gas Control.
Over the years, the program has grown and far exceeded what Charleston Gas Control employees could handle on their own. The Toy Drive now partners with customers, schools, churches, ROTC groups, fraternities, and sororities to undertake the various tasks needed to help reach the children with food and fun. “It is truly a grass roots effort,” said Christian.
“We start in April or May each year,” said Christian. And part of the overall program is two charitable events to raise the money to buy the food and gifts. “TransCanada holds an Annual Charity Golf Tournament as well as the Annual Cobb Fishing Tournament in our area. Many local vendors, along with several of our suppliers and customers, participate with a common goal to raise charitable contributions, and we raise a good deal of money that way.”
The Drive also relies on individual contributions coordinated through Mustard Seed. The group also helps identify those in need.
“Mustard Seed gets the names from the Christmas Bureau and from United Way. We want to qualify the need. And in most cases, if it weren’t for the Toy Drive, these kids aren’t going to get anything,” said Christian.
“This grass roots effort is indicative of the spirit of our employees. We are reminded during this time of year how many underprivileged families and neighbors there are within the Appalachian Basin. At times, they need a helping hand,” said Davis. "This event is one way we can give back to our surrounding communities and brighten the lives of children that would otherwise do without. Through this cause, our employees can offer a helping hand to a family in need. They come away with a true blessing—the reward of helping others.”