Interactive lights, a skeleton, and life-changing gifts: How 3 organizations are coming together to help local children this Christmas

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BROOME/TIOGA – What does a holiday fundraiser, interactive light display and 12 foot skeleton have in common?

They’re all giving back to the community this holiday season.

Community Engagement Specialist for Molina Healthcare, Terri Farrell, created the One Child at a Time gift drive last year through the Molina Cares foundation.

This year, they’re also partnering with Catholic Charities and iHeart Media’s Eileen Corey.

Farrell says she modeled the fundraiser after her childhood.

“As a child I knew what it was like to go without. My sister didn’t understand why Santa was only good to certain children. And I knew. And it was heartbreaking,” says Farrell.

Farrell takes specific wish lists of children who wouldn’t normally get many, if any, gifts and puts them on ornaments.

The ornaments go on trees for the community to take, at locations such as Tioga State Bank and Agway (see bottom of article for full locations list).

“It gets a little sad, some kids have asked for beds, some kids ask for food. But these kids last year got bikes and beds and brand name clothing,” says Farrell.

The ornament has multiple things to choose from, and its up to you to get as much or as little as you want, and also includes the child’s gender, clothing and shoe size.

This year, a couple new partners have jumped on board.

Matt White is the owner and Chief Elf of a new indoor, interactive holiday lighting display called The Holiday Experience, opening soon in the former AC Moore Vestal building.

White is hosting Farrell for 5 evenings, where people can drop off their gifts or make additional donations.

“It seemed like an easy thing to do, have Terri come and collect gifts. It would get more attention for her,” says White.

Also attending will be Endwell’s own nationally recognized 12 foot skeleton Boris, owned by Scott Varcadipane.

Varcadipane loves to give back to the community, as Boris has raised over $23,000 for charity this year alone.

“I think having the certain clothes that they like makes them feel better even just going to school. Different things they feel better about themselves because they have what the other kids have,” says Varcadipane, who says he’s excited to help kids in need.

Visitors can snap photos with Boris in exchange for a small donation to One Child at a Time.

You can drop off your unwrapped gift donations at the light show starting December 2nd through December 6th from 5 to 9.

If you can’t make that, there are other instructions found on the ornaments on how to return your gifts.

The Holiday Experience, which opens on the 2nd, will be open every Thursday through Sunday in December, excluding Christmas weekend.

If you’re still in the spirit to give back, Boris is also selling holiday t-shirts, with those proceeds going to Horace Mann to help underprivileged children there.

Make sure to pick up your One Child at a Time ornaments at any of the below locations through December 17:

Broome County
• Miller Auto, Honda and Hyundai in Vestal
• Schneiders Market in Kirkwood
• Tioga State Bank in Endwell
• Daniels Paint Store in Binghamton
• Agway in Endicott

Tioga County
• Tioga State Bank
• Agway
• The Goat Boy (All in Owego)

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