Though “Deck the Halls” proclaims “‘Tis the season to be jolly,” Christmastime finds many families dealing with the distress of not being able to provide the commercial components of the holiday for their children, especially because of their struggles to secure bare necessities. Blessed with good fortune and an amazing circle of acquaintances, Samantha Regalbuto has always nurtured a giving identity and will continue to help the downtrodden as the chief figure behind Making A South Philadelphia Christmas Wish Radiothon, a Dec. 9 to 11 altruistic marathon, complete with music and live broadcasts, at Marconi Plaza, 2700 S. Broad St.
“I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the less fortunate,” the 20-year-old said from Pastificio Homemade Pasta Co., 1528 Packer Ave., one of six supplemental sites where similarly selfless individuals can drop off donations. “Because I live down here and know about the caring nature that so many people have, I expect for this to be a success because South Philly looks out for its own.”
The Marconi resident is overseeing the park-situated display of philanthropy under the umbrella of Taking Our South Philadelphia Streets Back, a Facebook-centric community watchdog that her mother, Carol Lanni, a 2016 South Philly Review Difference Maker, created in ’13 following a robbery involving the latter’s son. With more than 23,000 “likes,” the page has become a sound source of community news and has aligned the overseers with numerous businesses, civic organizations, and residents who want to foster South Philly’s reputation as a safe haven where nobody’s needs go overlooked.
“You can’t go wrong in helping the community,” Kayla Camaione Vasilakos said from Beach Tanning South Philly, 2525 S. Broad St., another donation location. “There should be constant attention given to what we’re each bringing to the table, and something like this will no doubt make everyone feel better for having participated.”
The Lower Moyamensing dweller will serve as the on-air herald for the plaza endeavor, with Vascom Media Group, which operates her South Beat 103, and southphillypluggedin.com handling the broadcasting duties. Having known Lanni for a little more than a year, she gladly participated in Aug. 15’s Taking Our South Philadelphia Streets Back-backed Thin Blue Line rally, also at Marconi Plaza, in support of police officers and law enforcement personnel, so when the fall unfolded, Vasilakos felt she could show comparable reverence to the community by building on an enjoyable practice from her days as an Atlantic Broadcasting personality.
“We’d strive to help the homeless, and I’d say we were successful,” she said. “There’s also so much work to do for people who have residences yet are really struggling to make ends meet, and everybody talks about that this time of year. The radiothon is a way to make a definite contribution to their lives, and I’m hoping people come in droves to make a difference.”
Along with Pastificio and Beach Tanning, Vasilakos and Regalbuto are happy to count Clean Cuts Barber Shop, 1512 Wolf St.; Collision Craft, 1930 S. 20th St.; Strands, 2504 S. Broad St.; and Villa di Roma, 936 S. Ninth St., as drop-off destinations. The latter lady noted that she will periodically collect the goodies from the establishments until Christmas arrives and would love to secure more allies for the campaign. With regards to the plaza matter, which will run from 4 p.m. Dec. 9 to the same time Dec. 11, she aims to use the brainchild not only as an immediate means to brighten locals’ Christmas experiences but also as an avenue for conveying the power of a positive upbringing and enduring friendships.
“My mom taught me to give back, and I want to pass that attitude along to my daughter,” Regalbuto said as Pastificio co-owners Anthony Messina and Frank Sangiuliano fraternized with 1-year-old Nikki. “I have complete confidence in this attempt to show that we can remind people that no matter their situation, someone is going to care.”
“Everybody loves to get, but it’s much better to give,” Sangiuliano added as the little girl took a look at the contents of his store’s gift box. “We’ll all go through something at some point in our lives, so pride shouldn’t hold people back from speaking up and seeking help.”
Regalbuto’s initiative will entirely benefit South Philly households, and interested parties can ask to adopt a needy family to make sure that Dec. 25 does not register as a sad occasion. For those who visit Marconi Plaza over the 48-hour outreach, expect Vasilakos to create a merry mood, Santa, along with Mrs. Claus, to make an early journey from the North Pole, carolers and singers to be cordial conveyors of melodies, and vendors to inspire means to make loved ones and strangers happy.
“There’s nothing like gathering as a group to try to uphold the idea of community as a place where we look out for one another,” Vasilakos said, with a nod to the early birds whom she definitely expects to see making cheerful stops at the station. “We don’t have the Mummers Parade where most of us want it anymore, so how are we going to come together this time of year? Here’s a solution, and it’s absolutely rooted in looking out for one another.”
“Some children are probably not even fully aware of the extent of what their parents are going through to be able to bring them a smile or two,” Regalbuto said with a frown. “When you have so many people in need and so many more people willing to help, it’s great to give them at least a temporary amount of hope and maybe inspire them to keep their heads up.”
Messina commended Regalbuto for her charitable makeup and appreciates the opportunity to promote her idea at his business.
“How could anyone pass up a chance to help people in need?” the Packer Park resident said. “It’s just so rewarding to give no matter the time of year but especially as Christmas is looming.” SPR
Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making A South
When: 4 p.m. Dec. 9–4 p.m. Dec. 11
Location: Marconi Plaza, 2700 S. Broad St.
Items needed: Clothing, new and unwrapped toys and food
Contact info: Samantha Regalbuto, 267–441–6010
Additional details: During the radiothon, visit facebook.com/southbeat103/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf and youtube.com/channel/UCiMZrwBrBUskM9Fm0tiumJA. If you wish to perform, contact email@example.com or call 347–338–8403.
Drop-off locations: Pastificio Homemade Pasta Co., 1528 Packer Ave.; Beach Tanning South Philly, 2525 S. Broad St.; Clean Cuts Barber Shop, 1512 Wolf St.; Collision Craft, 1930 S. 20th St.; Strands, 2504 S. Broad St.; and Villa di Roma, 936 S. Ninth St.
Kayla Camaione Vasilakos will keep the positive vibe going by broadcasting the Marconi Plaza-set radiothon.
Photo by Tina Garceau
Pastifio’s Anthony Messina, from left, and Frank Sangiuliano are helping Samantha Regalbuto to secure toys that will help local children to have a wonderful Christmas morning.
Photo by Tina Garceau