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"Yule Toy" Cheer by the Bus Loads

Heather Redfern
SEPTA Public Information Manager

Santa knows when it's crunch time - the days just before Christmas - he can count on SEPTA employees to help him collect and distribute toys for deserving children in the Greater Philadelphia region. And, as they have for the past 35 years, SEPTA staff didn't let Kris Kringle down - donating 10,000 dolls, action figures, games and bikes for several local organizations.

"Our employees truly care about our community," said SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel. "From the Mayor's Clean-Up and food drive for Philabundance to Yule Toy, our staff always answers the call to lend a helping hand."

For just one month - between Thanksgiving and Christmas - employees from all SEPTA districts, depots, shops and Headquarters dropped toys in bright red bins and collected thousands of dollars to purchase items for children of all ages. "Every year, I am blown away by the response we get from the employees across the Authority," said Carol Looby, Secretary to the SEPTA Board and Yule Toy Coordinator. "Our employees know that the gifts the children receive from Yule Toy are often the only presents the kids will get. The staff makes sure these children have a happy holiday."

Just like Santa, SEPTA has a team of "elves" to help with sorting and packing gifts. "1234 Market Street looks like the North Pole," said Looby. "Our dedicated 'Santa's helpers' are busy emptying barrels and stuffing sacks, picking the right gift for each boy and girl on our list."

To get the presents to the children, SEPTA doesn't borrow Santa's sleigh - the Authority uses festively decorated buses to transport presents to the recipient organizations. "This year, we had two buses filled floor-to-ceiling with bags of toys," said Looby. "We even had bikes on the bike rack."

Groups receiving gifts as part of Yule Toy 2015 included were Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha, Calvary Chapel Word of Life, Neighbor to Neighbor, Whosoever Gospel Mission and The Rock.

"From collecting donations and sorting and packing gifts to coordinating toy deliveries," the Yule Toy Drive is a big effort by a lot of people," said Looby. "But the thank yous we receive from the groups we help is overwhelming. It makes the hard work worthwhile," said Looby.

SEPTA's "elves" take a quick break from sorting and packing gifts.

It took many SEPTA "Santa's Helpers" to load two buses with gifts.

Two buses were stuffed with gifts for local boys and girls.

SEPTA GM Jeff Knueppel and Public and Government Affairs staff member Maxine Dobbins were among those giving Santa a hand.

"Thomas the Bus", not Santa's sleigh, delivered SEPTA's presents to several local organizations.