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'Santa Squad' helping kids in need in Pittston

A group of friends took a fall tradition and turned it into a way to help kids in need in Luzerne County, and you can still help them out this holiday season.

PITTSTON, Pa. — What started as a football game between friends in south Pittston has now become the Greater Pittston Santa Squad.

Over the weekend, founders of the organization played that annual football game at Albert West park in the city.

A few years ago, the yearly game became a drop-off location for Christmas toy donations for children in need.

The group wanted to fill the gap the Salvation Army left behind when it closed in West Pittston.

Now, they collect toys at the game and in drop-off boxes across the city. 

"Last year, we took 325 kids from Salvation Army and filled their Christmas wish lists. So this year, we signed up over 200 kids on our own we decided to take registration upon ourselves signed up over 200 kids, and we also worked with about 10 other charities in the valley. So we're going to be probably close to 1000 kids help this year," said Tony Marranca from the Greater Pittston Santa Squad.

If you missed the opportunity to attend the game on Sunday and donate a toy there are still opportunities to help out.

"We have two toy drops coming up. One is next Saturday, the Pittston Area High School from 11 till three, and then next Sunday at Dr. Casey Dental on Oak Street in Pittston. They can come by and they can donate toys will have a tarp out and drop off any toys they want for the kids," added Marranca.

"We try to keep everything in the community. We get toys for kids who need them for the holiday season. We have multiple drops throughout the fall and winter. And it's just for all the kids in the area in the Greater Pittston area," Tom Granahan said.

"Any little bit helps. It doesn't have to be big-ticket items, but you know, nothing is worse than waking up on Christmas Day without some presents," John Rostock added. "It really goes a long way. If you could support and help the kids of the area, it'll make you feel better too."

So far, the Santa Squad tells Newswatch 16 through they have given out 7,000 toys to children in need since they started.

Businesses in Pittston are accepting toys until Saturday, and there are a couple more drop-off events.

Here is a list of the remaining drop-off locations and times:

  1. Saturday, November 27, at Pittston Area High School from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
  2. Sunday, November 28, Casey Dental at 1073 Oak Street in Pittston Township from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  3. Saturday, December 11, Pizza L'Oven at 1259 Wyoming Avenue in Exeter from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information, email Greater Pittston Santa Squad at SantaSquad1225@gmail.com or head to their Facebook page.