Todd Ambrose said he just couldn’t imagine waking up as a kid on Christmas and not having a gift under the tree.
That’s the sentiment that keeps the IBEW Local 573 business manager and the entire union local coming back to support Trumbull County Children Services. This year, the union electrical workers donated, assembled and delivered 20 new youth-sized bikes for the agency to give as Christmas gifts to children in their care.
“These kids deserve happiness at Christmas,” said Mark Phillips, IBEW Local 573 president and organizer. “They’re in this situation through no fault of their own, and your heart just breaks for them.”
The 20 bikes may be a record, Ambrose said.
“If they would have asked for 30, we would have brought 30. There’s that much support from our people,” he said.
The need is greater this year
Children Services’ Debbie Wimer said local families’ need for help has increased, particularly due to the rise in housing costs.
“Housing is an issue,” Weimer said. “They lose their home, they’re on the verge of living in their car, there’s a long waiting list for public housing, and the rents have gone up since Covid. And a lot of our families are single moms.”
She said the agency couldn’t do what they do without help from the community.
“They’ve come through for us every year,” Wimer said of the electricians. “All you have to do is ask.”
Wimer said the bikes will be a surprise to the children receiving them. The agency talks to parents and caseworkers throughout the year about gift ideas.
“A lot of the kids this year asked for bikes,” said Phillips, who assembled all the bikes himself.
And Local 573 was more than happy to accommodate them.
IBEW Local 573 is part of NECA-IBEW Electricians, an association of signatory electrical contractors and union locals in the Mahoning Valley.