PITTSTON – The Greater Pittston Santa Squad led by founder Anthony Marranca wrapped up the 2021 Christmas campaign more invigorated and excited for Christmas 2022 because of the huge success from public outpouring.
“We set out a goal to top what we did last year, and we absolutely were able to do that,” Marranca said. “We helped approximately 1,200 kids so they could have a nice Christmas.”
Marranca said between clothing and toys, they were able to give away over 7,100 items.
“We definitely impacted 1,200 kids and never did we think we could reach numbers like this, and we cannot possibly thank the public enough for helping.”
As in the past, items given out were not limited to toys; clothing items as well as personal care items were also distributed.
According to Marranca, the GPSS spent over $10,000 mainly going toward clothing.
“We made sure our financial donations purchased new winter coats like ski jackets, kids got onesies, a lot of long sleeve shirts for winter, so mainly the money we collected was spent on clothing,” Marranca added.
As far as purchasing new toys by the GPSS for the 2021 campaign, Marranca said they didn’t have to buy as many items this year. The toy drive that included drop-off locations going into the Christmas holiday totaled over 6,000 toys donated with 500 toys bought.
Much of what was accomplished for 2021 Christmas was done by a handful of volunteers, and Marranca would like to expand those numbers for the 2022 Christmas campaign.
“We brought in some volunteers and some stepped up, but we would like to up our board of directors,” Marranca explained. “We really got stretched this year, and that’s a good thing because we had a lot of exposure, so we’re definitely looking to add people that share our vision so we need to grow and get good help.”
Marranca said he and all-volunteer staff would take a break for a few months before looking to reorganize in March.
“We will most likely dissolve our current board and look toward some names in mind that we’d like to reach out and see if they could join us,” Marranca said. “We’d like to set a budget, come up with some new ideas, meet with other people heading nonprofits to give us some advice and ideas to take us to the next step.”
The GPSS had some new sponsors coming on board this year such as the City of Pittston, McDonald’s and Pat Stella, Keystone Automotive, Rutkowski Fencing, and Chris Martin at First Choice.
“It’s really hard to thank everyone,” Marranca admitted. “There are so many to thank and the GPSS is still a grassroots organization and without people of Pittston, West Pittston and Greater Pittston overall we now call our family and friends. If you call us, we’re going to answer.”
In 2021, the GPSS introduced a new fundraiser replacing the annual softball tournament with a golf tournament.
“We’re looking at billiard leagues for fundraising, cornhole tournament isn’t out of the question and the golf tournament will definitely be back,” said Marranca. “My biggest goal this year is to provide a meal and that might cost $10,000 to pull that one off.”
Marranca is excited to roll up his sleeve for the 2022 Christmas season but is appreciative that the community has stepped up and trusted the GPSS for the past four years.
“I always say, this isn’t out money,” Marranca said. “This is money entrusted in us to get it out to the community, and that’s what we plan on doing. We’re caretakers of this money and money in our bank account doesn’t help anyone.”
“We have been anywhere people have called us with need and have done our best to help as many kids and families as we can, and none of it possible without the people of Greater Pittston,” Marranca concluded. “We are tired and we are humbled, but most of all we are grateful.”