By Kaylee Lindenmuth | email@example.com
FRACKVILLE - Christmas cheer came on Christmas Eve for three families in need in the Frackville Police Department's service area thanks to the continued efforts of a borough police officer and his wife.
"Thanks! I am really happy!" yelled 9-year-old Sabrina Brown as Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and his entourage of elves, police officers, and media members came to deliver gifts to her family in the Mahanoy Plane section of Gilberton.
Project Cheer began last year through the efforts of Heather and Tony Kankowski, who organized efforts to bring a cheerful Christmas to a family in need, bringing toys and gifts for the family's children and providing a meal to the whole family.
"Why do it? Because it spreads Christmas cheer," said Heather.
"Not everybody could have a Christmas," Tony said. "There's the less fortunate that need help, and it makes their day."
This year, the project brought a Christmas celebration to two families in Frackville as well as the Browns in Mahanoy Plane. Both municipalities are covered primarily by the Frackville Police Department, of which Tony is an officer.
"Our officers have donated to this cause, but this is Tony's and Heather's project, and its wonderful that they do this for everybody," said Frackville Police Chief Rick Bell, who was apart of the group who visited the families.
"Why do it? Because it spreads Christmas cheer"
Beginning around 11:30am, the group visited the three families, bringing Santa and Mrs. Claus in a Frackville Police Car to the homes.
The first family visited was the Browns. Parents Jennifer and Clinton, along with Sabrina, 9, and Baylian, 8, were surprised and excited when the group visited.
"I heard you were looking for Santa Claus," Heather said to Sabrina. "He came to see you. Are you excited?"
"I am!" Sabrina answered.
"He is very excited to come and see you," Heather replied.
"I know!" Sabrina exclaimed.
Sabrina high-fived Santa, then gave him a hug. Receiving an early gift from Santa and clearance to open it early, Sabrina cheered.
"Thank you, I'm so happy," Sabrina said as she turned to the group.
The group then piled into their vehicles and set off to visit the next family, the Vaughans, in downtown Frackville.
The six member family -- parents Chanequa and Markus, and children Messiah, 3, Vianne, 7, Giovanni, 10, and Omari, 12, were also excited for Santa's visit.
"I brought you lots of gifts, but you can't open them up until tomorrow," Santa said, before giving each a container of cotton candy.
The third family was the Wilners, of Frackville, which consists of a single mom, Nicole, and her three kids, Carson, 2, Kelly, 3 and Graciellyn, 1.
"Wow! You got us presents?" said one of the children when Santa arrived.
Santa and Mrs. Claus were portrayed by Dave Kupusnick and Tammy Zipp.
This year's project was sponsored by O'Conner Law, Frackville, Boyers Food Markets, Primerica Financial Services, and the Ladies Auxillary of the Friendship Fire Company.
The Kankowskis said they're looking forward to next year, and invite others to donate and assist the project.
"We had overwhelming support this year, and we didn't expect it," Heather said. "We're hoping we could do the same thing next year."
"We're hoping it'll get bigger and more people will get involved," Heather added. "The more we can help, the better it is."
The families are nominated between September and November, when the group selects the beneficiary families.
NEWS FROM YOUR TOWN
-East Union Township
-North Union Township
-West Mahanoy Township
-Beyond Northern Schuylkill