McDonald’s event gives back to local community

GLOVERSVILLE-Toys whipped through the air and carols filled the ears of those in attendance at the McJammin’ McChristmas event in the McDonald’s parking lot Sunday night.

Over half the front parking lot at the Gloversville McDonald’s was filled with local families. About 200 people attended the event, according to Pat Schneider, marketing director for the Gloversville McDonald’s.

Vinnie Saj, a 18-year-old musician born in Gloversville, played the night away for the crowd. According to Saj, his main purpose behind the event was to do something good for the local area.

Saj, who said he had a hard time growing up in Gloversville, said he wanted to do something that would give young people in the area something to do.

“I grew up loving music,” Saj said.

According to Saj, he grew up poor in the city and was often bullied as he grew up.

Saj said he has already seen the event change people.

“I don’t care if it is six people here, if it changes one person’s life, its all about helping people,” Saj said.

Saj said the event wouldn’t have been possible without assistance from Gloversville Mayor Dayton King. King said he knew Saj from Love City Fellowship, the church they both go to.

King said Saj had reached out to him for help with the program.

“I just see a ton of possibilities for this young man,” King said.

According to Saj, the McJammin events started up roughly in September, when a member of his congregation suggested they play at the McDonald’s.

“This is our fourth month of doing it,” Saj said.

The events are self-funded, Saj said, but the sale of hot chocolate and cookies outside were to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The event raised $75 for the charity, Schneider said.

The event started around 8 p.m. Sunday, with Santa Claus coming out and sitting before the stage, a Hart’s Towing truck donated by the company. Kids lined up to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas and to get a photo taken with the jolly old fat man.

Around 8:30 p.m., Saj and his compatriots took the stage, playing Christmas carols throughout the rest of the night while volunteers tossed out gifts to the kids in the crowd.

The crowd, made up of fellow Love City Fellowship members and other local residents, cheered the band on as they played.

Parents said they were fond of having a place to take their kids close to the holidays.

Tricha Minch, a parent of a 4 and 8-year-old, said Saj was great at bringing up people’s spirits, which was a draw for the event.

“I think [the reasons people came out were] just being around people who are happy and being able to celebrate openly about our Christianity,” Minch said.

Bobie Countryman, another Fellowship member, said this was her first time here.

“I think the McJammin [following] has been getting bigger and bigger,” Countryman said.

Saj said he hoped to see the McJammin event spread to other McDonald’s.