A Decade of Project Holiday's Dedication to Rhode Island Communities
By Sara Porcaro | Dec 20, 2022
The Project Holiday Crew Shopping for Toys in North Kingstown
While all of us buckle down for the last bit of the holiday season, the fact is that for many families, this time of year can be difficult. Not everyone has the means to do what we associate with all of our favorite holidays: the gift giving, the feasting with friends and family. But a community is made stronger when its members band together to support each other, giving everyone the opportunity to share in the cheer of the season, and that's why today, we're celebrating ten years of Project Holiday!
The Purpose of Project Holiday
For the past ten years, the people we support at Perspectives and several Direct Support Professionals have participated in Project Holiday. They come out to help the kids in their local communities have the Christmas they deserve. Through Project Holiday, families who otherwise wouldn't have the funds to buy their children gifts are surprised just days before Christmas with pre-wrapped gifts and other goods, all delivered to their door by individuals like Jacob, Robert, Joe, Suzie, and so many more. It's an initiative that truly brings the community together, with many local businesses, like the Time Capsule, Carrabba's Italian Grill, One of a Kind Barber Shop, and many more pitching in to donate toys and money for supplies.
"Lots of people are joining in these days," says Direct Support Professional Andy Ming, who started the Project Holiday initiative with peers and people we support in 2013. "Word gets around. Everyone's talking to each other about the project, and I'm reaching out each year to spread the word, and it's been a big success so far."
As the holiday season comes closer, the toys are stored in a safe location, and the money raised at fundraisers, parties, and through donations is taken to local shops like Walmart and Five Below to get even more toys for boys and girls of all ages, as well as wrapping paper and other supplies. So begins the part of the project everyone loves: getting to see all the toys available, picking out things everyone thinks the kids will like, and later bringing them to the yearly Santa's Workshop party, where everyone wraps gifts while enjoying some good food, games, and each other's company. The Santa's Workshop party took place at the Adeline LaPlante Memorial Center this year, and the plan is to deliver the toys to families later in the week. The Project is not only a good deed, but also one that brings excitement and fun to the month of December for the hardworking and generous folks at Perspectives.
"I like looking for toys," Joe says. "There are so many cool ones these days; it's fun to see what's out there now!"
"What makes all this worth it is how good it feels knowing you've helped others."
The Work of the Community in Bringing Everyone Together
Adding to that success, this year, the Rhode Island Center for Assisting Those in Need (RICAN) contributed three hundred toys to Project Holiday thanks to a separate initiative known as Matthew's Wish. After an individual named Matthew decided to host a toy drive in 2016 for families in need, he collected over 3,000 toys to give to RICAN for distributing throughout the community, and since then, the toy drive has been one of RICAN's yearly events. Project Holiday applied to be a recipient, receiving plenty of toys to donate on top of the money everyone collected from yearly fundraisers, parties, other donations, and more. Such a generous donation from RICAN only added to the holiday cheer and excitement the Project Holiday crew had for this yearly event--and no doubt they're ready to get these toys into the hands of thankful parents and their children.
"What makes all this worth it," Direct Support Professional Ed Ellis says, "is how good it feels knowing you've helped others. The reactions we get are priceless. Everyone we deliver toys to is so appreciative, and the communities we deliver to tell each other about us, so they all come out and gather. It's a great feeling, and the people we support look forward to it every year."
When it comes to the difference being made, too, Service Coordinator Mykenzie Arcaro is excited--both for the community and the individuals we support. "[Project Holiday] is awesome," she says. "It's fun, and it does some good. I hope it inspires people to do more for others all year round, especially during the holidays, and I hope it inspires the people we support to know that they can make a difference for others."
Another year, another great success! Many thanks to everyone who donated toys, money, and their time to make the ten year anniversary of Project Holiday the success that it is. Making a difference in the lives of others, even in small ways, is part of what the holiday season is all aboutؙ--and no doubt everyone can feel great knowing that their contributions led to a bounty of fun, cheer, and high spirits for their local community. Here's to a wonderful holiday season!