athornebrooke@ricentral.com

EAST GREENWICH—BankRI and PMC Media Group generated hundreds of toy donations in East Greenwich this holiday season to be delivered to Rhode Island youth in need. The separate efforts were made to brighten the holidays by providing toys to children with the help of local nonprofits.

“Giving back is a huge part of our company’s culture – the moment we began planning our special holiday open house, we knew we wanted to partner with a local nonprofit and support the great work they do, especially at this time of year,” said PMC president Darren Jodoin in a statement.

The gifts made to PMC were the result of the generosity of staff, clients and members of the local business community. On Dec. 17, PMC hosted a holiday open house to celebrate both the season and the company’s move to its new, larger home on Main Street in East Greenwich, after which members of the PMC team packed the presents into two cars and delivered them to the Westbay Community Action Program on Dec. 19.

Owing to its relative size, BankRI’s efforts were carried out as part of its statewide Giving Tree program, which solicits toy donations every holiday season. In this, its 22nd year, the drive collected 167 gifts from the East Greenwich community among a total of 1,466 presents across the state. In East Greenwich, the bank’s local branch provided 167 gifts to the Town of East Greenwich Department of Human Services for distribution to area children in need. All of the presents were given to BankRI’s nonprofit partners for distribution to children by last Friday, ensuring that they would reach their new homes before the holiday. 

“Every year we look for our Giving Tree program to be successful, and every year I’m taken aback by the incredible response of everyone involved,” said BankRI CEO Mark Meiklejohn, “Having an opportunity to put a smile on the faces of kids who may be going through tough times is what this time of year is all about.”

Though they were two distinct events led by organizations with very different business goals, both the PMC and BankRI efforts relied on the help of local nonprofits. The PMC Media Group worked closely with the Westbay Community Action Program, a Kent County-based nonprofit that specializes in providing food, utilities, health, safety and education resources. BankRI, meanwhile, worked across the state with 16 regional nonprofits including Adoption Rhode Island, Aids Care Ocean State, Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick, Community Care Alliance, Comprehensive Community Action Program, Connecting for Children & Families, CrossroadsRI: Domestic Violence Program, East Bay Community Action Program, East Greenwich Dept. of Human Services, Kingstown Crossings, Lucy’s Hearth, Providence Housing Authority, SSTARbirth, ‘Tis the Season Coventry/West Greenwich, Tri-County Community Action Agency and Welcome House of South County.

During the holidays, Westbay sees an increase in the number of families with children it helps from Cranston, Warwick and across Kent County. While the organization’s “Adopt-a-Family” effort reaches upwards of 200 families, there are often dozens more who fall upon hard times after the program’s gift distribution or who seek help just before Christmas. The presents from PMC are earmarked to help these ‘emergency’ families.

“The holidays are about so much more than gifts,” Jodoin said. “But when times are tough for a family and you’re able to do something small that brings a smile to their faces, that’s what captures the real spirit of the season. I am so grateful to my team and to everyone who helped us help others.”

Indeed, the gifts are likely to be a welcome boon to those families who receive them. The 2018 Kids Count Factbook found that 20 percent of all Rhode Island children live in poverty. It is an issue with no easy remedies, to be certain, but even a seemingly superfluous toy during the holiday season can serve to better such a child’s life.

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