Liverpool jeweler offers kids a chance to 'earn' gifts

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.

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