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Park’s jeans days make for a great Christmas Day

Wearing jeans on Fridays is more than just a company perk. It’s an opportunity to bring huge smiles to Licking County children on Christmas.

Our associates put money in a charity fund for the option of wearing jeans once a month throughout the year. Some of that money finds its way to Amy Adams in our Treasury department, who works with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Licking and Perry Counties during its Holiday Help campaign.

Park has supported Holiday Help since 2003, and Amy has graciously led the effort since 2009.

“Christmas is the one day a year everyone should forget their troubles and be happy,” Amy said. “To think there are kids who don’t get anything or aren’t able to celebrate it, it’s too much for me. I knew this was something I had to volunteer for.”

Every year Park sponsors 25 youth, who range in age from 3 months to 17 years. Often BBBS will ask if we can take on a few more youth they couldn’t find sponsors for (we never say no), or we will ask to sponsor more youth when our fund swells a little bigger.

Shopping for 25 or more kids is a task greater than one person. So Amy turned to her colleagues to recruit some passionate helpers over the years, including Treasury colleagues Kim Ballmann and April Dusthimer and Lori Drake and her team in Compliance. They’ve stood in Black Friday lines, scoured the Internet and combined wish lists to ensure they could get the best deals. They work hard to stretch the donated dollars as far as possible.

“My volunteers are a tremendous blessing,” Amy said. “They really take to heart who they’re shopping for. They try to match up outfits and get what the child needs and wants.”

Once everything is bought, the many hundreds of gifts have to be wrapped – during breaks, lunches and after work. In 2017, that number totaled 197 presents, from the smallest jewelry and hair ties to a large baby activity center and hand tool set.

It’s a true labor of love for everyone.

“The children we help are in situations beyond their control, yet they are the ones that bear the most weight in those situations,” Amy said. “So, for one day, let them be children, let them open a gift, play with a new toy, put on a new outfit that belongs to them and wasn’t passed down, forget about their situation and let them feel the love of Christmas as every child should.”