Story by Lon Tytell
The Warwick Valley Rotary Club and the Warwick Lions Club sponsored their annual Holiday Party for Children in Need on Sat., Dec. 10 at the Warwick Reformed Church. The Rotarians were responsible for the morning session and the Lions organized the afternoon session.
Approximately 135 local children were treated to a variety of activities that included games, cookie decorating, a meal, a photo with Santa and a professional portrait, escorted by elf volunteers. Each child had an opportunity to choose a gift for each member of their family and with the help of volunteers, the children wrapped each gift. At the end of each session, Santa presented each child with a giant gift bag that included an outfit of clothing, shoes and a toy chosen especially for them. Every family received a $25 ShopRite gift card donated by Glenn P. and Susan D. Dickes to help with a holiday meal.
The chief sponsors for the event included: the Warwick Lions Club, the Warwick Valley Rotary, Chosun Taekwondo, Glenn P. and Susan D. Dickes and the Backpack Snack Attack program.
Among the businesses and organizations who contributed to the success of the event were the Knights of Columbus Council #4952, ShopRite of Warwick, Spadafina Photography, Dragon Fly Photography, Jennifer Karon Photography, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Warwick Reformed Church, Greenwood Lake Lions, Florida Lions, Werners True Value, the Interact Club, the Warwick Valley Knights of Columbus, Back Pack Snack Attack volunteers, Leo Kaytes Ford, Seely and Durland Insurance, Sneakers to Boots, Galloway Dental, Interiors Plus, Total Accountability, Christine Cordey Salon, HDR Engineering and the Wadeson Home Center. The Warwick Interact Club worked with volunteers from the Warwick Lions Club, the Warwick Valley Rotary and members of the community to wrap over 1,000 gifts prior to the event.
Food was donated by Frank’s Pizza, Franico’s, Trattoria Luca, Corbett’s Cookie Bar, Wolfie’s, Noble Pies, Jean-Claude’s Patisserie, Eddie’s Roadhouse, Down 2 Earth and the Greek Grill. Members of the Warwick community also contributed homemade desserts.
Sponsors contributed $60 per child to provide clothing and a toy. Shoppers were given the age, gender and size for each set of clothing purchased. Each year the students of Chosun Taekwondo Academy hold fundraisers and this year they were able to sponsor and shop for 30 children. They also helped decorate and set up for the event.
The rest of the sponsorships came from organizations and individuals in the Warwick community. Almost 100 volunteers donated their time to set up, clean up, provide transportation for those who needed it, serve as elf escorts and work at the various stations at the event. The children are specifically invited through the Backpack Snack Attack program through the Town of Warwick, the Mustard Seed Migrant Ministry and the Alamo.
Claire Gablemann, the project coordinator for the entire event and a member of the Warwick Lions Club said, “This year’s event was the most successful we have ever done. The combined efforts of the Warwick Lions and the Warwick Rotary, along with the generous community, resulted in the happiest group of kids imaginable. The volunteers get as much out of this as the kids do. It will be a happy holiday for all.”
Warwick Valley Rotary, chair, Tina Buck stated, “This event is the highlight of our year, for the volunteers and the children. The spirit of Christmas was felt throughout the event. In one word – heartwarming.”