Project Gifts partnering with local dealership

The holiday country song "Santa's Gonna Come in a Pickup Truck" may not be far off the mark this year, with local dealership St. Marys Chevrolet teaming up with Project Gifts for Elk County by pledging to collect four truck beds full of toys for the area's disadvantaged children. Bill Weaver, general sales manager at St. Marys Chevrolet, said the dealership has participated in its parent company's "Chevy's Giving More" campaign during the holiday season for many years. The national event takes charitable donations to the local level by providing resources that allow dealerships to contribute to good causes in their communities. "Instead of having a big event, a big sale, it's designed to show the public that Chevrolet is giving back to them. In conjunction with them, we wanted to give back and choose a charity that would stay in Elk County, because those are the people that we serve," Weaver said. He said Project Gifts for Elk County was chosen as the recipient this year because of both its proximity and its purpose. "We heard that (Project) Gifts for Elk County was local and we thought it would be a good match. I like their motto, that no child should be without a toy on Christmas morning," Weaver said. Project Gifts for Elk County has been providing Christmas gifts to less fortunate children throughout the county for 21 years. Originally established by a state trooper, the state police and their local counterparts are still involved with collecting and distributing toys to eligible children at Christmas. Many local groups and organizations also help with the collection, wrapping and distribution. Any child age 10 and under who resides in Elk County and demonstrates a financial need is eligible to participate and receive a present. Bob Roberts, president of Project Gifts for Elk County, said the number of gifts distributed doubled between 2008 and 2009, increasing from 200 in 2008 to 460 last year. "I anticipate that need to be the same or even higher last year because of the economic conditions," Roberts said. St. Marys Chevrolet's collection event kicked off the day after Thanksgiving. Weaver said the dealership received over $450 worth of toys that day, and that he was overwhelmed by people's generosity. "It was just incredible. There's nothing more gratifying than knowing you're doing something special for somebody who can really appreciate it," he said.For more on this story, see the Nov. 30 edition of The Daily Press.