For the second year in a row, Marcellus Shale driller Range Resources is sponsoring the Observer-Reporter’s Holiday Market.  The festivities kick-off this afternoon at 3 p.m. as vendors set up shop under the Community Pavilion at Main and Wheeling Streets in downtown Washington.

In addition to the food, music, and holiday-inspired crafts that can be found at the Holiday Market this year, employee volunteers from Range Resources will be back collecting toys and funds for Toys For Tots of Washington and Greene Counties.   Range employees and husband-and-wife team Matt and Nicole Kravits are two of the key organizers of the company’s efforts on behalf of Toys for Tots. 

“Like everyone who volunteers, since day one, I’ve loved being a part of this effort,” says Nicole.  She’s been helping to coordinate Range’s toy drive for the past six years, while her husband Matt got involved more recently.

 “Of all of volunteer efforts and community outreach that we’re a part of, this is definitely one of our favorites because it’s for kids,” says Matt. “From raising the donations at work, to handing out toys to parents at the end of the drive and seeing their reactions, it’s really heartwarming.” 

To date, the employees of Range Resources and the service company partners who participate have helped to raise over $120,000 for Toys for Tots.  That total includes over $28,000 raised last year – a number volunteers are hoping to beat in 2017. 

“Our first year at the Holiday Market turned out so well, people were very generous,” says Nicole. “We’re hoping for more of the same this year!” 

Mike Pallesco is the coordinator of the Washington and Greene Counties Toys for Tots drive.  “My dad started it in 2003. I took over in 2013 after he passed away. It gives you a great feeling to be able to help families out.”  Mike also says corporate support is critical.  “We had about 350 kids the first year.  We’re up to around 4,000 now.  We hand out approximately 30-thousand toys every year. We couldn’t do it without support from local companies, and Range Resources is one of our top contributors every year.”

Like all of the employees at Range Resources who volunteer their time, not only for Toys for Tots, but also many other worthy causes throughout the year including 2000 Turkeys, the United Way, and the Washington County Agricultural Fair – Nicole’s volunteer hours are added onto her already busy full-time job with Range’s Operations department. 

“The employees get a lot out of it, and they don’t mind taking that extra time on top of their normal work day too,” says Nicole.  She also points to Range’s management team as being very supportive of employees’ efforts; along with the many vendors and service company partners who work with Range throughout the year.  “We couldn’t make the event successful without our vendors.”

This year, some of Range’s vendors took the toy drive a step further – as drilling contractors held a competition that included categories such as “most toys” and “coolest toys”.  The battle continues into next week as Range continues collecting toys and funds through December 11th at the company’s offices in Southpointe and Washington. 

Tonight’s Holiday Market will take place from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. under the Main Street pavilion.  The city’s annual Christmas parade will cap off the night; as holiday marchers, floats and vehicles wind their way south on Main Street past the pavilion. 

If you would like to make a donation to Toys For Tots, please stop by Range’s booth at the Holiday Market between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. this evening.  And if you can’t make it tonight, Range Resources and the Observer-Reporter will continue accepting donations at their office locations until Monday, December 11th. 

This article is written and sponsored by Range Resources.