Youth Empowerment annual Santa Run spreads holiday cheer

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Youth Empowerment Project held its annual Santa Run Friday, tossing out stuffed animals, candy and reindeer dust around Utica.

"This is the end of our Christmas rush," says Youth Empowerment Project Executive Director Barbara Gaston. "We have serviced every family we could possibly service, we have provided Christmas for hundreds of families this year and we are now doing what we like to do."

Two trucks of volunteers tossed out candy, stuffed animals, and magic reindeer dust packaged by those in their traumatic brain injury program.

The Santa Run caps off their weeks of giving out toys, blankets and winter to local families.

"Every year our numbers increase and increase," says Gaston. "Although there are a lot of agencies out there doing wonderful things, we actually take our referrals and give it to people that actually really need it, people that wouldn't necessarily ask somebody for help."

The Santa Run traveled around Utica, Proctor High School and then to the Thea Bowman House to spread cheer.

"Seeing the faces on the people - the elderly, the kids...this is what we live for at the end," says Gaston. "We know that when we do this its over and we are going to celebrate with our families the rest of the time."

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