Berwyn, Pa. (WTXF) Inside the Upper Main Line YMCA in Berwyn, Pa. members were giving their hearts a workout Thursday night.
Outside, dozens of volunteers--mostly teens-- were doing the same; packing box trucks full of tens of thousands of Christmas gifts for delivery by the Delaware Valley Children's Charity.
The effort began more than 30 years ago with a handful of 'Y' employees sponsoring families, but has grown to include members, families, their friends, local companies and agencies-- all working together to give more than 6000 needy children in our region more than 60,000 toys and bikes.
"(There's a) real need right in our backyard," says Rob Wermuth, who directed The gift packing effort. "Most of the homeless shelters in our area-- many of these gifts will go to kids in homeless shelters-- they are full!"
Most of the volunteers on this night are veterans of the effort- students from West Chester' Bayard Rustin high school. It's a relatively wealthy school in a relatively well-to-do area. Packing gifts for delivery on a cold and windy night gives these kids a lesson in self-awareness.
"We are a really privileged school and to live in such a privilege area like West Chester," say senior Sky Demis. "We kind of get in this bubble and don't realize that there are people in need around us all the time."
"It's just the feeling of giving to people who can't have what they want," says senior Pat Register. "And it just feels good inside."
"People spend so much time to make it all work," says senior Elise Krikorian, "so it's just amazing that people put so much effort into something to give back to other people that they don't even know."
Planning for this gift giveaway began months ago and the delivery preps on this night would make the professionals at FedEx jealous. Each package a welcome surprise-to-be for a child in need.
"I think the most amazing thing," says West Chester University junior Patrick Pearson, "is waking up Christmas morning knowing that thousands of kids are getting Christmases and you were a part of that and it's really kind of a cool feeling."