It must have been a little warmer in the village Wednesday as the and Vicinty, Inc. began to wrap up its annual Holiday Gift Drive. More than 30 members of the organization met at the Upper Ridgewood Community Church to organize hundreds of items including toys, books and clothing.
With gleeful determination rivaling only that of Santa’s Workshop, members worked to match gifts to the the wish lists of approximately 120 children in Ridgewood and neighboring municipalities.
These bundles of joy are the culmination of months of organization and planning. This year’s committee chairs, Lori Weil and Kelly Petersen (both of Ridgewood), have been working since September with SSA Board members and several private sponsors to fulfill the individual holiday wishes of kids whose families who are struggling to make ends meet.
The success of the drive relies upon the generosity of organizations like local fire and police, the library and several schools (in both Ridgewood and Glen Rock) and businesses including and , and the .
Weil says that local schools alone cover the gifts for roughly 40 to 50 children. Village-based book groups as well as individuals have also stepped up to the cause.
Well in advance, board members obtain wish lists from multiple families along with particulars like clothing and shoe sizes. Items are either provided by sponsors, or in some cases, board members will take on the task of purchasing all items on a list.
Weil said that some members were out shopping as late as Wednesday evening to ensure packages were complete. That is where monetary donations become especially important. The aspiration of the Holiday Gift Drive is not to put generic presents under the tree, but to put together meaningful, highly personalized gifts.
All of this, however, comes as a big surprise to the children. Thursday, SSA members met parents in secret to deliver the goods. Deliveries are made a week before Christmas so that families will have enough time to wrap and add their own personal touches to the packaging.
“It gives me such a warm feeling to see the relief on the faces of these parents just to know there is one less thing they need to worry about in these difficult economic times,” said Weil.
All gifts donated to the cause will find their way into the hands of children. Any items remaining after the bags are packed will be delivered to kids through St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Paterson.
If you would like to sponsor a wish list or simply make a monetary donation to the annual Holiday Gift Drive contact the Social Service Association.