Another Christmas has come and gone, with all the gifts shelled from their wrappings and students of all ages now enjoying their winter break before the start of the new year. But while there are many families who look forward to the holidays, the unfortunate truth is that there are many families who worry about how they'll afford the yearly holiday cheer. For families in Rhode Island, however, our friends at Project Holiday had their fifth annual toy drive--where volunteers like Nico, Chris, Gabby, Jose, Andrew, Joe, and very many more all joining in to make Christmas special for families in their community!
Project Holiday, a Toys-for-Tots inspired program, has been steadily growing its numbers of supporters--and volunteers--who gather donations of money, toys, and other supplies to wrap at their Santa's Workshop event. This year, the workshop was a festive gathering at Lang's Bowlarama, where the shoppers joined their friends for an afternoon of good food, gift wrapping, and a few rounds on the bowling lanes.
One volunteer, BJ, has been with Project Holiday since its beginnings. "I love getting to wrap the presents for the kids," he says. "It keeps me busy and thinking about the holiday spirit. I also love bowling, so getting to help my community and bowl with friends is great!"
While shopping for the rest of their toy selection, the Project Holiday crew had quite a surprise: another shopper passing byasked about their initiative--and donated another one hundred dollars to the toy funds! The shoppers were extremely grateful for such an unexpected contribution, on top of the donations of their sponsors, such as Jazmin's Gifts and Novelties, DePetrillos, and Pro-Roofing. Alongside their sponsors' much appreciated contributions, another donor joined the cause this year: the Rhode Island Center Assisting those in Need (RICAN)!
Ed Ellis, a Perspectives Direct Support Professional (DSP) Mentor, joinedProject Holiday for the second time this year. He and his wife, Teresa, a member of RICAN's board, oversaw the toy drive efforts and brought in over one hundred toys for families in need--a massive donation that, with the help of other RICAN staff, went smoothly from gathering toy donations to getting them to Project Holiday.
"I loved being a part of this last year," says Ed. "It made my entire holiday. Seeing the kids run out and get their toys, hugging everyone, was incredibly heartwarming."
At Lang's, two large tables were set up full of toys--action figures, stuffed animals, games and puzzles,toys for infants--and so began the volunteers' work, wrapping gifts and enjoying each other's company. Whether they had been with Project Holiday since the start, or whether this was their first year joining, all volunteers had a great time knowing they were giving back to their communities, one toy at a time.
"It makes Christmas feel more meaningful," says volunteer Chris, who helped shop and attended Santa's Workshop. "I feel sad thinking about kids who don't have much on Christmas--but getting to hand out gifts and seeing the kids happy is the best."
With another Christmas comes another year of fantastic work by the Project Holiday volunteers! Through their hard work, and the generosity of our friends in the community, local families were able to celebrate the holidays with bright smiles again this December. A great thank you to all our sponsors who made this year's Project Holiday a success!