It is the season for giving, and the energy workers in northeastern Pennsylvania want to be sure that there are gifts under the tree for families who are struggling. For more than a decade, Coterra Energy has coordinated a shopping trip in support of efforts by Susquehanna County Interfaith; Interfaith Friends, which serves Wyoming County and the Wayne County Children’s Christmas Bureau.
“There’s probably nothing better than putting a smile on a kid’s face,” said Matt Sheruda of Down to Earth Equipment Rentals of Montrose. “It’s a great feeling to have the opportunity to give back to the community this way.”
“It makes me feel good,” Shawn Jagger of RLE Enterprises concurred. “I actually asked this year if I could do it.” She was concentrating on winter wear like warm jackets and insulated boots.
Rebecca Peterson of Folsom Engineering also had a combination of clothing and toys in her cart, including several Squishmallows: soft, plush stuffed animals “that are ‘the’ gift this year,” Peterson said assuredly.
The annual shopping trip is coordinated by Bonnie Morris of Coterra and Cindy Beeman, executive director of Susquehanna County Interfaith. The number of children registered for the holiday initiative increased during the pandemic and has remained consistent with the high inflation that followed. With necessities like food and heating oil taking a big bite out of already limited budgets, Beeman explained that the Christmas gift program relieves some of the burden parents face during the holidays.
One might think that all children care about at Christmas is toys, but that is not the case – especially in recent years. In addition to art and school supplies, youths ask for clothing, bedding, and sweatshirts. “Things that keep them warm,” said Beeman, noting that high school students increasingly put more practical items on their wish lists. She suggested that the shift in priorities, even among children, is reflective of where we all are in an ever-changing world. “Being practical is not a bad thing,” she remarked. “Our counties in particular are all about making it work and getting through the hard times.”
In addition to the aforementioned, participants in the shopping initiative included Moody & Associates, United Drilling, Rain For Rent, Resource Environmental, Ampro, Northern Tier Industry Education & Consortium, Lackawanna College School of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Western Environmental, C2G, Select Energy, and GasSearch Drilling Services, a subsidiary of Coterra. Walmart supports Interfaith throughout the year, including the agency’s Back to School program.
Walmart cashier Lauren Victory, who was asked to come in on her day off, was caught up in the Christmas spirit. “I wanted to do it,” she noted. “And this is very generous of these companies.”
Those who could not participate in person give monetary donations to Interfaith, which Beeman and other staff members use to fill out the remaining gift tags. “We look forward to supporting this initiative every year,” said Coterra director of external affairs George Stark. “As an industry, we come together to address the immediate needs of those who might be facing hardships during the holiday season. But the support doesn’t end there; Coterra and its energy partners continue to help Interfaith clients throughout the year in many impactful ways.”
After they are wrapped, tagged, and delivered to the agencies’ offices, the gifts will be distributed to parents in the week leading up to December 25 to allow them to place them under the tree for Christmas morning.