For most parents, it’s the same story every year: if a kid wants to buy something for one, the other has to give them the money for it.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Kids can “earn” gifts to give to their loved ones — and all it costs is the price of some toiletries and books.
From now through Dec. 24, Diana Jewelers in Liverpool is collecting donations for the Samaritan Center, a soup kitchen in Syracuse, from area kids. In exchange, each child will get a silver heart pendant on a black cord that he or she can give as a gift.
Diana Jewelers owner Betsy Palladino-Blasland worked with Mary Beth Frey at the Samaritan Center to set up the drive. Kids are asked to bring in toiletries and new or gently used books, which will then be donated to the center.
Palladino-Blasland said she was looking for a way to give back to her community.
“A lot of people around here are in a really tough situation this year,” she said. “Everybody’s feeling the crunch. There are so many people in need, and I have the ability to do something about that.”
Giving back also a sound business decision.
“If a business is vested in the community, you need to pay it forward,” Palladino-Blasland said. “You need to help the community you work in.”
Though there are many deserving causes locally, Palladino-Blasland chose the Samaritan Center because it provides meals to so many families.
“There are no questions asked,” she said. “This is a place where you might have a family donating to it one year, and they may need to be eating there the next. It’s just a really good cause.”
Frey said the center serves a hot dinner 365 days a year and breakfast four days a week to anyone who needs it.
“We have no eligibility criteria,” she said. “If you’re hungry, you’re welcome here.”
The center also helps to connect people in need with other services, including HEAP, food stamps and more.
“We’re kind of a clearinghouse for all of that,” Frey said. “We want to make sure people are getting accurate information, and that they’re getting the services they may not know how to ask for.”
The center is entirely funded by local donations, so the drive conducted by Diana Jewelers will provide a big boost.
“We only exist because of the generosity of this community,” Frey said. “I’m humbled every day by the folks that help us out.”
Palladino-Blasland said she directed the drive at kids because she hoped they would take away a message of giving.
“I’m a parent of a 14-year-old and a 10-year-old,” she said. “My children have their Christmas lists and they’re huge — they get so much. This year, I just want them and others to take a moment to remember everybody else.”
When they do so, she said, they’ll benefit, too.
“Being able to give someone something they earned, and being able to help someone else — they’re going to feel good about that,” she said. “And they’re going to want to do it again.”
Lakeshore Drive-In Plaza
911 Old Liverpool Road, Liverpool
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
12 to 5 p.m. Sunday
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.