SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It was a work party.
“We’ve got everything from teachers to the building trade, the crafts.”
Actually, an after-work party.
“Pipe fitters iron workers, operators.”
With members of local unions putting a wrap on one of their biggest jobs of the year.
“We have the carpenters, office of professional employees. The list goes on and on.”
As does the joint holiday giving program by Savannah’s 34 affiliated unions, whose members provide Christmas gifts for local children in need each year.
“It just warms my heart knowing that we can help somebody and put a smile on their face,” said Theresa Watson, President of Savannah Federation of Teachers.
“We’re blessed enough, we have employment, we make decent wages and we’re just giving back to those who are having it tight,” said Brett Hulme, Carpenters Union member,
And they have been doing it for 20 years.
“What we do is we adopt x number of kids every year. We ask them for a wish list and we get them what’s on their wish list and make their Christmas special,” said Christi Hulme, President of Savannah Regional Central Labor Council.
The program extends over three months with raising the money, buying the gifts and then getting together one night for an annual Wrap Party at a local union hall.
“It’s us getting together, wrapping gifts, smiles on our faces, happy knowing that, expecting that when these children get these gifts, they are going to be so excited knowing that ‘wow, look what I got.’ So, it’s just a fun night.”
The wrapped packages will be delivered in coming days to the military families, foster families and union families the program helps. And because of circumstances this year, it will be more families than ever before.
“I was a little worried about the fundraising part on that because I know times are tight. But our local unions along with the Savannah builders trade came together and raised twice as much as we normally would raise and we were able to help twice as many kids this year. And it was a great feeling that they reached down deep because they knew it was going to be hard times and they wanted to give back to the community.
And with $16,000 raised to provide Christmas for 60 children, they had more wrapping to do Wednesday night.
“That is amazing. For all of the unions to get together and give more than they normally do is just spectacular,” said Pooler City Councilwoman Karen Williams.
“It shows that there are people who love, that want to be able to help and extend that help to others in need.”
“Like I said, it’s the reason for the season. Most definitely.”
The foster families the union workers adopted were suggested by CASA (Savannah-Chatham County Court Appointed Special Advocates.) The other families applied for the giving program and were selected based on need.