Elmira/Corning Regional Airport
Hundreds Deliver Arctic League Christmas Gifts
Written By: Tanja Rekhi
ELMIRA (WENY) -- 6:15 on the evening before Christmas: a time many of us are wrapping up gifts for the big day.
But not for Matthew Nichols and his friends. That's when they got here at the Arctic League in Elmira to distribute gifts for kids in need.
"My dad got me into it when I was younger. First year I was like 'I don't know, it's too cold,' but then after I saw the first look and the way they respond, it was worth it ever since," said Nichols.
For many families, camping out overnight has become tradition. Crowds lined Clinton Street and looped down Park Place.These volunteers aren't out here just to get on Santa's nice list for next year; for many, it's what the holiday season is all about.
"There's one thing about the Arctic League: Everything is volunteer and people enjoy doing this every year," said John Corsi, Arctic League Packing Director. "There will be on the average 600-700 people outside right now and when I left the house it was 10 degrees! They're just dedicated to the Arctic League."
3,401 gifts for kids were delivered this year to 1,619 families. But what about gifts that come back when people don't answer the door?
"Did they oversleep? I don't know, God love 'em, but we're gonna make that happen to get those bags to them," said Susie Alexander, 2013 Arctic League President.
The Arctic League has phone numbers for all their deliveries. Volunteers like Jason Zeigler and his son stand by, to make those deliveries again.
"Well there's gifts that need to get out there to the kids of the area and we wanted to make sure that everyone got their presents this morning," said Jason.
Both he and Jakob braved the cold temperatures, which dipped into the single digits. They say it was all worth it.
"Well I was tired, but I know it feels good to do other stuff for people," said Jakob.
Now, work starts for next year. The Arctic League has raised over $120,000 for those gifts from donations.