WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP — Young and old, skilled and not so skilled, hundreds took to the ice at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza Wednesday night for the ninth annual free skate to benefit the Marine Corps Toys For Tots program.
It is the only day of the year the public is allowed to skate on the ice usually reserved for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey team.
“I’m a teacher so I’m around a lot of kids that have unfortunate situations, so we’re here only to have fun and to help the kids in any way that we can,” said Dave Koptcho of Mountain Top.
Folks donated a toy or $5 and in exchange, got to skate on the ice the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins use, a thrill for many.
“We love to come watch the Penguins play so whenever we get a chance to do this, we do it,” said Pam Sampolski of Mountain Top.
Local versions of Monopoly, Scranton-oploy and Wilkes-Barre-opoly were for sale at the arena, with proceeds benefiting Toys for Tots.
“I think it’s like a trifecta here, so you can buy a game, give it to Toys for Tots, and you’re also raising money for the community in general, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, and then also giving some money back to Toys for Tots,” said Bernie Maopolski of One Point Incorporated.
The Marines in charge of Toys for Tots said last year, they helped 23,000 kids in eight counties including Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties. This year they said they are helping even more, and they’re touched by how generous people are being.
“It’s amazing, I love this community. Seeing the people of the community support the children from the community, it’s just amazing. It’s very heartwarming,” said Sgt. Brandon Kropf, coordinator for Toys For Tots.
Each year, the free skate draws about 400 people who donate to the cause.
About 35 arena staffers donated their time to make the event possible.