Christmas came early for 23 local children’s charities courtesy of Ardmore Valero Refinery. Thursday afternoon the refinery held their annual Benefit for Children Awards Celebration and $250,000 was distributed between the 23 organizations.

Valero Ardmore Community Relations Advisor Sara Donaho Jones said refinery employees nominate the charities, and once nominated they submit an application outlining their plans for the money. The amount of money given to any particular charity is based on their specific needs and can range between $5,000 to $50,000.

“They are required to apply for a specific project,” Jones said. “With their application they have to apply a budget for that project and include if they are receiving any other funding for that specific project.”

Once Valero receives the applications, a committee of local employees reviews the applications and makes suggestions about how much each organization should receive.

“We try to honor as much of their needs as possible, but the money all adds up quickly,” Jones said. “That’s one of the reasons the committee is so beneficial. Each committee member comes up with an amount they think is fair, and we average those numbers together to land on the final total.”

Kevin Lassahn, vice president and general manager of Valero Ardmore Refinery, said they are happy to be helping so many local organizations.

“I want to recognize all of our community agencies and all the work that you guys do to serve the children that are in need,” Lassahn said. “All agencies represented here today inspire us all with your passion and purpose. We want to recognize you and all of the things that you do — the love, the commitment and the dedication. Without you this event wouldn’t be possible, the money wouldn’t be able to go anywhere, and there would be no one to help the children. We really appreciate you and everything that you do.”