Another example of how the Warwick community unites to make a difference is the annual Holiday Project for Children in Need. The Warwick Rotary Club, the Warwick Lions Club, the Leadership Team from Chosun Taekwondo, the Backpack Snack Attack Program, and the Warwick Reformed Church along with many local businesses and individuals work together to create a memorable holiday for local families in need.
The committee works all year to put this event together. An estimated 150 children will be served at this year’s holiday party, which will be held on Sat., Dec. 8 at the Warwick Reformed Church, located at 16 Maple Ave. in Warwick.
At two back-to-back parties, “elf” volunteers escort small groups of children to various stations which include: games with prizes, cookie decorating, professional portraits, a photo with Santa, and a holiday meal. A “shop” with new, donated gift items is the station kids love the most. They choose gifts for their families and then wrap them.
The “shopping” feature traces its roots to when the Warwick Jaycees took about 30 children to local shops to choose gifts for their families. The Warwick Lions Club took over and the event has grown over the years. Four years ago, another local service club, the Warwick Valley Rotary, joined the project. This has allowed more children to participate.
Santa presents all the children with giant gift bags filled with clothing, shoes, underwear, socks, hats, gloves, and toys chosen just for them. Generous Warwick residents Linda and Mark Stephan provide ShopRite gift cards for families of the guests. Transportation is provided as well.
Claire Gabelmann, Warwick’s 2016-17 Citizen of the Year, coordinates the event for the Lions Club and Marge King-Porter, a current Warwick Community Service Award winner, is the Rotary event chair, assisted by Joyce Perron.
Members of the community sponsor the children by donating $65 per child, $100 per family or by shopping for a specific child and providing the items indicated. Other businesses and individuals donate new gift items, wrapping paper, pizza, and desserts. Still others volunteer their time.
Student members of the Leadership Committee of Chosun Taekwondo Academy hold fundraisers to sponsor an average of 25 children a year. These students also decorate and help set up for the party. High school members of the Rotary Interact Club volunteer their time to wrap gifts for the kids the week prior to the event.
Members of the Backpack Snack Attack Committee solicit applications and donate gift items and sponsor kids. The Alamo and the Warwick Area Migrant Committee help fill out applications and provide transportation for guests. Jennifer Karon Photography provides a professional portrait for each child. Pictures with Santa are taken by Dragonfly Studio and Spadafina Photography. ShopRite of Warwick sends volunteers as well as donating a gift card that is used to purchase supplies. The Greenwood Lake and Florida Lions Clubs help out at the party and sponsor children. Local pizza parlors and bakeries donate refreshments.
Many more individuals and businesses contribute to the success of this event. Sponsors and donations are always needed to provide clothing, shoes and toys plus gift items for the “shop,” where the children choose gifts for their families. Members of the community are invited to join in by volunteering or donating.
For more information or to offer to help, call the Warwick Rotary at 987-7297 or send an email to warwickvalleyrotary.org, or call the Warwick Lions Club at 986-1681 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.