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SEPTA Employees on Santa's "Nice List" with Record-Setting Yule Toy Drive

Heather Redfern
Public Information Manager

The "T" in SEPTA normally stands for transportation, but this holiday season, it meant toys - for the 18,000 games, dolls, sporting goods and bikes donated by SEPTA's employees during the Authority's 37th annual Yule Toy drive.

"We're in the customer service business and our employees see these kids - they want every kid to have a good Christmas,"said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel. "I can't imagine every year how the employees find a way to top it, but this is our best year ever. Just an amazing outpouring of love and generosity from our employees."

Starting the week after Thanksgiving, staff at all SEPTA districts, depots, shops and 1234 Market Street headquarters began filling bright red barrels with gifts for deserving children across the Authority's service area. When the barrels were delivered to 1234 Market just days before Christmas, the sight was overwhelming, especially for Carol Looby, Secretary to SEPTA's Board and Yule Toy coordinator for almost 30 years."Every year I am even more touched by the compassion of my colleagues," said Looby. "I was speechless when I saw all of the toys being dropped off this year. It was a record."

Groups receiving gifts as part of Yule Toy 2017 included Friends Rehabilitation Program, Inc., in West Philadelphia; Neighbor to Neighbor in Sharon Hill; St. Veronica and Incarnation Parish in North Philadelphia; The Rock in Kensington; and Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House. The Authority's employees know that their toys might be the only ones some children receive during the holiday season. "The Yule Toy recipient organizations serve families that are facing financial and sometimes medical hardships,"said Looby. "There might not be extra money for presents."

"This year we also added Project HOME to our recipient list," added Knueppel. "We're going to be able to give toys to homeless children as well."

Members of SEPTA staff not only contribute monetarily but they assist Santa by giving him a head start on his Christmas Eve world tour. On December 22, Santa's special "SEPTA Helpers", who filled in for Kris Kringle, packed two buses, posing as sleighs, with sacks of toys and made special deliveries throughout the region.

"It's an awesome feeling when we give out the toys to the organizations. They are so appreciative," said Looby. "Thank you to all of our SEPTA staff who helped make this a great holiday for so many children."

SEPTA employees and GM Jeff Knueppel get ready to stuff buses with 18,000 toys.

Thousands of bikes, board games, dolls, action figures and sporting goods are ready to be loaded on the SEPTA "sleighs".

Santa's "SEPTA Helpers" sorted, packed and delivered donations to local organizations a few days before Christmas.

SEPTA GM Jeff Knueppel helped load sacks of toys on the buses.