Iron Horse Casino delivers hope, toys to chidren

Iron Horse poker manager Jason Griffin, food and beverage manager Ryan Cites and general manager Barry Murray. - Shawn Skager/Reporter
Iron Horse poker manager Jason Griffin, food and beverage manager Ryan Cites and general manager Barry Murray.
— image credit: Shawn Skager/Reporter

The spirit of Christmas is alive and well at the Iron Horse Casino.

Staff and patrons at the popular Auburn gambling spot have banded together to chip in and brighten the holiday season for community members in need.

“Last year we adopted about 40 kids from Dick Scobee Elementary and ended up helping about 52,” said Ryan Cites, the casino’s food and beverage manager. “This year we decided to start at 60. It’s our local school, and we want to continue to support them as much as we can.

“We basically get a list from them, anonymous of course,” he said. “It just has their age and whether they are a boy and a girl, with a few of their wants and things they actually need for Christmas.”

Once received, the lists make their way on to the casino’s Christmas tree, where patrons and staff can pick a name and chip in by purchasing the items on the list.

“It’s kind of sad because sometimes some of their wants are simple, just things like a spiral notebook,” Cites said. “Just bare necessities.”

Once all of the lists are filled out, Cites said, the casino will deliver the items to the students at Dick Scobee.

“Christmas time is important for the kids,” Cites said. “Nobody wants to have nothing under the tree. And it’s a nice feeling to be able to help. A lot of us are lucky to be in the positions we’re in, but some aren’t so lucky. So every bit of brightness you can bring into their life is a blessing for both sides. And this is a good outlet to do this.”

The casino is also helping out by raising money and food donations for the Auburn Food Bank.

So far the Iron Horse has raised more than $6,000 and collected more than 450 pounds of food items.

“We’re going to continue to do that throughout Christmas,” he said. “We have a bin in the casino and, as long as the donations keep coming in, we’re going to keep doing that. Chris Kealy (owner of the Iron Horse) has made it a point to really give back, not just to this community but to surrounding ones as well. We’ve been a longtime partner of the Relay for Life. We’re always a big part of that. He understands that not everyone is as fortunate, and anything we can do to give back is good.

“The Iron Horse staff has done a really good job of stepping up to the plate,” he said. “They have gone above and beyond to help out, beyond what we’ve asked. There are so many good people working here.”

Anyone interested in helping out can deliver nonperishable food items, unwrapped toys and gifts and school supplies to the Iron Horse Casino at 333 15th St. NE.

“Then we can just take those and plug them into the right place,” he said. “We have a master list of what every kid’s wants and needs are.”


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