Diana Pequignot, Becky Purcell in back row. Front row Kaeley and Aubrey Pequignot. Photo by Tracy Parker of High Image Photography in Tioga.

Fill the Trailer Project Became a True Christmas Story.
By Lonny Frost
Becky Purcell of Covington, was inspired to do something to help others this Christmas season after reading about a young boy named A.J. Fuller of Liberty.  For five years A.J. fought cancer and during his fight he spent many of those days in a hospital room.  Becky also followed updates on A.J. through his Facebook page that his family set up for him.  Because of his story she felt the urge to do something to help others.  She also wanted her two daughters to understand and have a concept of giving, especially during this time of year.
“So I decided right then that I wanted to do something for someone during this time of year.  I figured I could help individuals where Christmas might be the furthest thing from their mind.   Like when parents have an ill child that needs care in a hospital for a long time.  The parents are worrying about so many other things,” Becky stated.
This fact alone seemed to emphasize Becky’s beliefs.  “I believe we are all guilty of taking small things for granted,” Becky added.  “I felt that somehow, somewhere I could be doing more.  So I called Jackie Ogden and asked for her ideas. 
Jackie Ogden knew all about the limitations in a child’s and parent’s life when a seriously ill child is hospitalized for extended periods of time.  Jackie’s son, Nicholas, was a patient at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital for treatment of hypo-plastic left heart syndrome last year.  Although her son is doing better now and is home, Jackie was honored to hear from Becky Purcell.  Jackie stated she was delighted to help with Becky’s idea and she was very eager to help others in similar circumstances that she has also experienced. 
“You are so limited in that setting as to what a child can do and can’t do,” Jackie stated.   She added that board games, books, DVDs and video games were perfect because some of the children cannot even leave their beds at times.
“I spoke with Becky and she asked what do these families in the hospital need?”, Jackie recalled.  That is when Becky announced, “Let’s do a toy drive!” At that point Jackie had quickly agreed and the idea blossomed rapidly. 
From there, Becky decided to talk to family members and post the “Fill the Trailer” idea on Facebook.  Andrea Wickman of The Brick Tavern, Eric Pequignot from Blossburg Building Blocks and Diana Pequignot from Pequignot Catering joined in to help.  Together this small group put out flyers and posted notices on Facebook to encourage everyone everywhere to join their cause. 
Becky Purcell and family member, Diana Pequignot, set up several drop off points at participating businesses located in Blossburg, Mansfield, Wellsboro, and Arnot.  Later other businesses also became drop off spots or made donations.  Soon items starting coming in faster than anyone thought possible.
The group also received monetary donations from people wanting to help.  One little boy named Liam Shaut, of Mansfield, even donated his own money to help other children.  With all the money received, Becky purchased a variety of gift cards for the children.  Gift cards ranging from ITunes, Visa gift cards, Walmart cards, and even gifts cards to different restaurants.
Diana Pequignot, one of the members of the group stated, “Becky took her idea and with Jackie they set everything up with the hospital.  We all wanted to inspire others to reach out and help since our communities have seen a lot of tragedies in 2012.”  “Thankfully many people have given during those times.  But we also wanted to encourage people to continue giving throughout the entire year,” explained Diana.    
Diana offered her catering business’ 14 foot trailer for the group to fill.  Also Pequignot Catering was one of the toy drop off spots.  “I heard what they were doing and offered to help out,” recalled Diana.  “I always try to help anyone, in any way I can.  I loved the idea of giving to these children, so I joined in,” stated Diana.
Diana then exclaimed, “The amount of items donated was amazing!”  “We received donations from Blossburg, Arnot, Mansfield, Wellsboro, Morris and other places around us, including the Canton Legion.  Everyone was very generous in helping,” she continued.   “Life is not about what we can get, it is about what we can give,” Diana pointed out.  
Becky Purcell was touched by the generousity of people.  “Because of the outpour of support and donations from everyone and everywhere, we quickly filled the 14 foot trailer in about a month’s time,” recalled Becky.  In fact, there were so many toys collected that no one had time to even count them. 

This cart of sfuff animals sets outside the hospital doors waiting to be pushed into the childrens’ hospital in Danville. Photo by Tracy Parker of High Image Photography located in Tioga, Pa.

 The group decided in the beginning to take all donations to Geisinger Medical Center’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville, simply because of the large number of children there. 
On December 20th, all the toys were loaded into the catering business’ trailer and everyone headed to the Janet Weis Hospital to deliver the items.   
Joining Becky on this trip were her two daughters, Kaeley and Aubrey Pequignot and the girls’ great aunt, Dian
a.  Along with others, this small group loaded up the trailer and when they reached their destination they carted every gift into the childrens’ hospital in Danville.  There the gifts were left inside the lobby close to several large beautifully decorated Christmas trees.  A sense of warmness filled their souls, as a smile appeared on their faces. 
Becky believed her girls realized how lucky they were to be healthy.  Her daughters had learned how important it is for people to give to others during a time of need.  They also learned a lot about community service.  Most importantly they have learned that one person can really make a positive change in the world.  “People who come together to help others, is what this is all about.  It is a valuable lesson for everyone to understand and appreciate,” Becky explained. 
“However, this would not of been possible without all the people in the surrounding communities and all the businesses that stepped up to help brighten Christmas for these families.  I want to thank everyone who gave this season.  “I also want everyone to know I look forward to our group doing this project again next year,”  Becky concluded with a twinkle in her eye. 

AJ Fuller’s of Liberty, Pa was the inspiration behind Operation: Fill the Trailer. Photo provided.

The brave young A.J. Fuller, who greatly inspired  Becky Purcell’s “Fill the Trailer” project and was part of its great success, sadly passed away in the early morning of  Nov. 29th.  In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations towards his medical expenses.  Donations can be sent to to Regions Bank, 1604 21st Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212.  Please make donations out to:  Anna M. Fuller, Account #0179384757,  Memo: AJ;s Medical Fund.   The inspiration of A.J. has touched the lives of many around the world and has left a very precious impression on our hearts.
The “Fill the Trailer” project had several corporate sponsors.  They included  The Brick Tavern, Bergy’s Place, Pequignot Catering, Blossburg Building Blocks, Ward Manufacturing, Tetra Technologies, High Image Photography by Tracy Parker and The Wheels Inn.
Photos of the “Fill the Trailer” event  were provided by Tracy Parker of High Image Photography in Tioga.  (607) 857-5171.


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