The Spirit of the Holidays: UGI Providing For Our Neighbors
Don Brominski is a rock star. Stepping into his favorite red and white costume and getting out in front of an audience of squealing, delighted fans, he knows what it means to shine. Brominski’s “stage” is a Head Start center, and his “fans” are all under age five, but that matters not for this voracious volunteer.
“Hands down, playing Santa Claus is the most rewarding activity,” he says. “It’s been extremely fulfilling to bring so much joy to the kids from Head Start.”
Brominski, Senior Manager of Business Development at UGI, believes in giving his time and talents to the community in a variety of ways. Yet Brominski is just one of a virtual army of UGI holiday helpers that go forth into the community bringing joy, comfort and caring to their neighbors.
“There’s really a tradition of volunteering and giving during the holidays,” says Joe Swope, Manager of Media Relations for UGI. “Our programs energize our employee base to help those who are less fortunate.”
- Head Start, Luzerne County and Scranton
- Opportunity House, Reading
- New Journey Community Outreach
- Salvation Army Capital City Region, Harrisburg
- Coats for Kids, Susquehana Valley
- Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Middletown, Lancaster
- Commission on Economic Opportunity, Wilkes-Barre
- Olivet Boys’ and Girls’ Club Center for the Arts, Reading
- Salvation Army, Reading
- Salvation Army, Lehigh Valley, Allentown
- Salvation Army Angel Tree & Red Kettle Project
Beginning in November, UGI volunteers focus on a cornucopia of projects that feed, clothe and support the community. Food drives are conducted in many offices, with distribution to local food banks. Key to the success of many of their ventures is partnering with organizations that have programs in place and need hands and feet to do the work.
This year, as in previous years, the helping hands and hearts of the UGI volunteers are ready to build on the success of past programs such as Angel Trees, Coats for Kids and hosting holiday parties for local non-profits.
The idea behind Angel Trees is to provide UGI employees with information about those in need and a “wish-list” of potential gift items. A tree is then decorated in the UGI office with tags containing the “wishes” of the recipients—many items the basic needs we all take for granted. Employees choose who they can sponsor, shop, and deliver—ensuring that there are gifts under other’s trees where there might previously have been none.
“We are so fortunate to have UGI as our Angel Tree Sponsor for the Back Mountain Center,” writes Debbie Maskalls a Luzerne County Head Start Family Worker in her correspondence to UGI. “For many, many years, UGI has provided children at our Center with warm winter coats, hats, gloves and winter clothing. For many families, they are not able to purchase these things for their children; so without the support of the Angel Tree, the children would not have what they need for the winter.”
The 2018 Coats for Kids drive, which runs November 10 through December 15, has a live telethon component on WGAL-TV with UGI employees helping to staff the phones. Last year the 15-hour telethon raised $150,000 in support of the Salvation Army and their projects.
“I have been fortunate not to have to worry about many of the struggles others in our community go through every day,” says Stephen Snyder, a UGI telethon volunteer. “Even though many of the tasks we do while volunteering are simple, it may be just what is needed.”
While the success of many of these ventures is a cause for celebration, volunteers like Brominski get real joy from hosting holiday parties for the groups they serve. In addition to Head Start, Olivet Center for the Arts—a Boys’ and Girls’ Club center in Reading is the beneficiary of a joyous holiday party, complete with a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“Volunteering is very rewarding,” says UGI’s Kristen Eck, coordinator of last year’s event. “I believe that in order for the community to change, we need to start with children. They will be our future leaders, doctors and teachers.”
If the culture of a company can be measured by its commitment to the communities in which it serves, then UGI employees truly know how to spread the spirit of the season to their neighbors in need.
And if they are ever in doubt, they can read the closing words of Maskell’s correspondence: “UGI has become such an important part of the lives of the children and families at the Back Mountain Center and has truly made a difference to each and every family that the Company has touched with its kindness and generosity.”
Let’s face it: volunteers are rock stars!