Empire District Electric came bearing some warm winter gear for Boys and Girls Club members in Commerce and Fairland last week, where Santa also paid visits thanks to The Stables Casino.

OTTAWA COUNTY – Boys and Girls Club members in Commerce and Fairland were recently treated to some cozy gifts from Empire District Electric that will keep them warm through winter and show off their school and Club pride.

Jordan Bolinger, Empire Business and Developments Manager serving Ottawa County, came bearing stacks of warm sweatshirts and beanies last week, visiting Commerce Wednesday, Dec. 13 and then Fairland on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Bolinger and Boys & Girls Club of Ottawa County Director Mackenzie Garst are long-time friends, so when the two found themselves working in the same county, Garst said it seemed only natural that they should work together to do good for local kids.

"Empire has always been so invested in the communities that they serve," said Garst. "So, what could be a better way to support the community than putting clothes on our kid's backs?"

Garst said the Club was really excited about the donation, which is valued at about a $2,200 gift from Empire and looked forward to continuing their partnership.

"This is a great investment in kids and something that they can use all the time so we really hope that we can continue to partner with Empire," said Garst. "We can ensure our kids stay warm through the winter months and have some cool student gear that they can be proud of where they go to school."

The sweatshirts and beanies came in the Commerce and Fairland school colors, blue and white and red and white, respectively. School names and mascots are set on the front of the sweatshirts, and Empire and the Club listed on the backs, while each beanie sported the school logos.

"We are very excited to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa County to provide sweatshirts and beanies for students in their Commerce and Fairland programs," said Bolinger. "We are passionate about helping out the communities we serve, and we hope this donation will help these students stay warm this season."

During Bolinger's visit Santa also made time to stop in with a present for each of the kids thanks to this year's Stables Casino Toy Drive.

One by one, children at both locations took their turn with Santa who with the help of a Club Elf handed out a toy to every boy and girl, their smiles wide and eyes bright from an already happy afternoon made even fuller with his visit.

Santa also paid a visit to Miami Club kids, mindful to get a gift to all Ottawa County Boys and Girls members.

For more than 150 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,200 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach.

The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa County is located at 830 D St. SE in Riverview Park in Miami with units is Commerce and Fairland at the elementary schools. Call 918-540-1641 for more information about local Club programs.

Based in Joplin, Missouri, Empire, a subsidiary of Liberty Utilities, provides electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater services to nearly 320,000 customers across six states, including Oklahoma. For more information about Empire services and community outreach, visit www.empiredistrict.com.

The Stables Casino is the sole casino operated by the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma and is located at 530 H St. SE in Miami. For more information visit http://the-stables.com or call 918-542-7884.

Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor of the Miami News-Record. Contact her at dballard@miaminewsrecord.com and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard.