you to John Gugliotta and all of the elves at Paul Davis
Restoration in North Attleboro for hosting a fantastic
Christmas party for the area's homeless children! Also,thank
you to Ken Abrahams and Fun Entertainment for providing
the best ways to put smiles on the children's faces
(and also the adults')! It was a wonderful evening that
the children will not forget!
is for Kids delivers yet again - and the drive's long
time head couldn't be more grateful for all the support
by Kelly Fox
for the Sun Chronicle - Friday, January 13, 2017
By virtually any measure, Christmas Is For Kids 2016
was a success. A total of 920 children received new
toys and clothes to open on Christmas morning, thanks
to the generosity of our community. If that was the
total of our accomplishment, we should be able to put
a big bow on the program and sleep well ... but it's
become so much more than simply filling the bags.
For me, the first day back to school in January is
like a second Christmas to many children. It's when
they can show off a new coat or tell about a special
toy, just like all of their friends. They have something
new, their dream come true, the knowledge that they
weren't forgotten. I think about what must be happening
on school buses and playgrounds as new coats or boots
are happily modeled. I think that it gives these children
a little boost to self-esteem, and that is a success.
Donors came out early and in big numbers, matching
up to every child a week earlier than anyone ever remembered.
Then it was just a wait-and-see as bags started to come
in ... and boy, did they come in, along with hat and
mitten drives, blanket drives, toy drives and gift cards.
Then the sorting and organizing began.
The volunteers, 13 to over 80 years old, have forged
a family. Over 4,000 volunteer hours were logged in
just over a month, so we're working closely and intensely,
doing data entry, reviewing applications, sorting and
organizing toys, folding (and refolding) clothes and
getting everything ready to go into bags.We're picking
up donations and answering phones, writing thank-you
notes and creating shopping lists. The activity is constant
and the elves know what needs to get done, happily getting
down to the work while catching up on the last 10 months
with the friends they made last year, but haven't seen
since 2015's gift drive.
Success is welcoming new volunteers into the Christmas
Is For Kids family, and seeing these new elves find
their favorite job and come back night after night,
turning the corner into the warmth of the library area
where we do our work and happily jumping in.
Over the last few years, we've worked closely with
the organizers of several of the other area gift drives
to be sure that everyone is helped without overlap.
We've learned the nuances of the Santa Shop for example,
and the additional services families can receive by
being part of their program through St. Vincent DePaul.
The Salvation Army and other town-specific drives
also coordinate with us to be sure that every family
who reaches out is helped in a way that hopefully is
best for that family. We have created a network that
is collaborative and supportive of each other and helps
families in a broader way while also alerting each other
to people who should not be in the programs. Success
here is allowing us to be better stewards of the donations
while focusing on families who might benefit from additional
attention beyond the holiday.
Many longtime Christmas Is For Kids supporters know
about the eight-hour class requirements parents need
to do in order to stay in the program after the first
year. Originally, the classes focused on money management,
but over the years have broadened into a wide variety
of topics. A few years ago, parents asked if we could
also include credit for finishing a high school equivalency.
We thought that was a great idea. Soon after, parents
asked if we could also include college level classes,
and we were thrilled to be able to include those classes
to fulfill the requirement as well.
For parents who were learning English, we worked
with The Literacy Center, and soon parents gained confidence
in their new language and proudly conversed with us,
no longer needing a translator. Many wanted to find
a way to give back, so we also offered volunteering
as a choice, especially for the parents who found English
a challenge. They could volunteer as a way to give back
to the community who helped their children. Nearly a
third of the parents did double (or more) of what was
required. They are motivated to learn more for themselves
and their children and they are gaining confidence in
their increased knowledge. This is a huge success for
their family as well as for the community.
Paying it forward
Nearly every year an older adult comes in to donate
with their adult children in tow and announces that
the reason they are donating is because Christmas Is
For Kids helped their family when they needed it. It
is almost always a surprise to the adult children, and
it is a heartwarming moment when we see it.
This year, a parent who had been a recipient just
a few years ago came in and wanted make a donation.
She told me that she had paid attention through the
finance classes and budgeted hard, saved money, made
changes to her spending and bought a house and started
a small business. In the bag were samples of what her
company makes. She wanted to give one to every child,
all 900, as a way of giving back and thanking us for
helping her when she needed it. I was overwhelmed to
tears as was each of the volunteers who heard the story.
She is a success story.
I think if I'd stopped at the end of the second sentence,
that 920 children's wishes came true one December morning,
we could agree that it was all worthwhile. But there
is so much more that makes Christmas Is For Kids magic,
and being able to share that is so important because
each person who donates is impacting more than just
one day in a child's life, the donors are making a difference
in much more lasting ways and I consider that the real
Kelly Fox is the longtime chairwoman of the annual
Christmas Is For Kids gift drive, which is organized
by the Attleboro Area Council for Children.
Love Life Now
Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of victims and survivors of domestic violence. They
wrote a nice article about the Christmas is For Kids
Click here to
view the article...
Christmas is for Kids Gets It's Miracle
matched with donors in annual gift drive
Sunday, December 4, 2016 12:05 am
BY JUDEE COSENTINO
FOR THE SUN CHRONICLE | 0 comments
ATTLEBORO - It's a miracle on County Street.
For the first time in Christmas Is For Kids' 33-year
history, all 800 needy area children have been matched
with donors to ensure they will receive presents on
During the Saturday preparations at the drive's headquarters
at the former Brennan Middle School at 135 County St.,
chairperson Kelly Fox was in a state of amazement, as
were many of her volunteers.
"This has never happened before," Fox said.
"It's pretty amazing...it was a big surprise."
According to Fox, the phones "rang off the hook"
for several days with donors calling in to sponsor children,
and the generosity of two donors early in the season
made it possible for Fox and her "elves" to
shop for 60 children, thus allowing them to get a beneficial
Additionally, Fox said, there were many donors who
took multiple children's wish lists, which also contributed
to the success of the annual gift drive, run by the
Attleboro Area Council for Children.
However, with the pressure off on matching donors,
now it's on to ensure that all donations arrive by Wednesday
by 8 p.m., and Fox does not want to discourage donors
from calling in because there are still many "special
items" that are needed to complete a child's wish
Fox said the agency is expecting 700 bags to be dropped
off in the next few days.
"It's such a huge relief to know that we have
a week to get all these kids taken care of," Fox
Volunteer Elaine Bassis, a "phone elf,"
was just as surprised and pleased as Fox was when the
realization dawned that all the children had been matched
with a donor.
"In all the years I've been here, I've never
seen this," Bassis said. "It's a feeling I've
never had in here before...I'm ecstatic that people
are coming forth to make the Christmas miracle happen."
Throughout the afternoon, Fox's numerous elves were
hard at work, including Bob Vachon, who coordinates
the distribution of the toys.
"To feel that sense of accomplishment without
all the pressure is magical, which is what this experience
should be anyway," Vachon said.
For more information, visit councilforchildren.org/cifk
or call 508.226.0911.
is for Kids has 300 left to match
ATTLEBORO - With the holidays fast approaching, and the deadlines for Christmas Is For Kids donations even nearer, CIFK chairperson Kelly Fox is urging donors not to wait to call in and sponsor a needy area child, as approximately 300 out of 800 still need to be matched by Saturday, Dec. 3.
"Three hundred children of all ages is a lot of children to match," Fox said. "This is why we absolutely need the help of the community in any way they can help."
Last week, an additional nine children from the homeless shelters were added to the list, and Fox said she was "stopped in her tracks" when she received the news from the shelter's director that the area shelters are all full.
"It has to make you stop and be thankful for what you have, because now over 100 children don't even have an address," Fox said.
Fox, who is proud of her "truly terrific" group of volunteers, said that regardless of how many years the "elves" have been volunteering, they enjoy spending numerous hours working together, but it's not an easy job to assemble a gift bag for the children.
"We hear it a lot - folks think that this is easy; just fill a bag, and many are surprised that children don't just get one thing," Fox said. "We work in teams, inventory every bag, really look at sizes, colors and toys to be sure that when we ask the final question 'Assuming that this is all the child will get on Christmas morning, would the child be thrilled?'
Can we all nod our heads and say, 'Yes, this child will be happy?' Then we've done our job," Fox said.
Fox also urged donors who have already been matched to drop off their gifts by Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. to insure that everything will be ready before the parents come in to receive their child's gifts. In addition, Fox said, if donors prefer to make a monetary gift, Rockland Trust has an account for CIFK and will be used to buy for any child that hasn't been matched.
Through all the work, Fox is grateful not just for the help of her "elves," but to the community as well.
"I don't know if it's possible to ever say 'thank you' enough," Fox said.
The CIFK headquarters is located at the former Brennan Middle School at 135 County St. in Attleboro. The phone number is 508-226-0911. For more information, visit
The arrival of Thanksgiving accelerates the Christmas season, and also marks the start of the holiday gift drives, especially the two largest ones in the Attleboro area: Christmas Is For Kids and Mansfield's West Side Benevolent Circle.
The lists for both of those drives were published in Sunday's edition of The Sun Chronicle and at thesunchronicle.com, and the need appears to be as great as ever, the drives' organizers said.
Christmas Is For Kids
The annual drive organized by the Attleboro Area Council for Children has entered its 33rd year with new challenges: a list of gifts that's grown to more than 1,000 and a sixth town added to the program; Plainville joins Attleboro, North Attleboro, Norton, Seekonk and Rehoboth. The effort succeeds yearly because of the hundreds of dedicated helpers. "The volunteers are truly amazing. They are selfless, caring and dedicated to making this program work so that every child has a terrific Christmas morning," Kelly Fox, the drive's longtime chairwoman, said.
More than half of the children on the list are submitted through a social service agency, and nearly 100 children are homeless, Fox said. "The need is stunning," Fox said. "The families we help have myriad challenges ranging from illnesses, underemployment and language barriers."
If you're interested in helping, here's how the program works:
Donors can call Christmas Is For Kids at 508-226-0911 Nov
21-22 from 5 to 8 p.m. and then after Thanksgiving, Nov. 28-Dec. 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. More info: Visit councilforchildren.org or call the Council of Children at 508-226-2336.
is for Kids Drive off to a good start
Posted: Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:47 pm | Updated: 11:29 pm, Mon Nov 21, 2016.
BY JUDEE COSENTINO FOR THE SUN CHRONICLE
ATTLEBORO - The Christmas Is For Kids phone lines were lit up like up a Christmas tree on Sunday, when the organization began taking calls for donors to be matched to needy area children who might otherwise not have presents on Christmas morning.
"Phone elves" Elaine Bassis, Renee Codega and Lori Scales were kept busy during the early afternoon hours, eventually collecting 54 matches for children by 2 p.m. The women shared three desks pushed together to create a slightly crowded but comfortable work area.
Approximately 25 calls came in during the afternoon, with some donors taking more than one recipient.
"It's definitely a good start," Bassis said. "Everything's been good; people are really wonderful."
It was not just a toy or game that was written on the donor list; some children were requesting such items as a bathrobe or snow boots. The donor list ran in The Sun Chronicle's Sunday edition, and many people calling in had recipients picked out, but for those who did not, the "elves" were more than happy to help find the best match.
"We're here to help (the donors) find a good match for them," Renee Codega said. "Even if the (recipient number) the donors have in mind are taken, we can find a comparable match for them."
Codega, in her fourth year of manning the phone lines, considered her job "inspirational."
"I'm just doing my part in this whole mission," Codega said.
Lori Scales felt hopeful by the end of the afternoon at the number of matches received.
"I love this," Scales said. "For me, I love seeing the community come together to help others."
Christmas Is For Kids chairperson Kelly Fox was also pleased at the afternoon's work, calling it "a great start," even though there are still 500 children that still need to be matched.
"It's a great start, but it's just a start," Fox said.
The CIFK phone lines will also be open Monday, Nov. 21 and Tuesday, Nov. 22 from 5 to 8 p.m. The phone number is 508-226-0911. After Thanksgiving, the phone lines will reopen Monday, Nov. 28 at 5 p.m.
Challenges await Attleboro's Christmas is for Kids'
How to donate
If you're interested in helping, here is how the program works:
Donors can call Christmas Is For Kids at 508-226-0911 starting today to be matched with a child. The donor center is closed today, but the phone lines will be open from noon to 2 p.m.
Both the donor center and phone lines will be open on Monday and Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. before taking a few days off for Thanksgiving.
The donor center is located at the former Brennan Middle School and old high school at 135 County St. in Attleboro.
The phone lines and the donor center will reopen on Nov. 28 and will remain open six days a week until Dec. 7. The campaign officially closes on that date, which is when donations are due. The regular hours Nov. 28-Dec.7 will be 5 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
Christmas Is For Kids is a big project and it takes a lot of hard work and a bit of Christmas magic to make it successful year after year, Fox said.
"We have tremendous faith that it will all come together every year and it always does, because the collective magic (the hard work, dedication and maybe some fairy dust) in our community makes it happen," Fox said.
For more information, visit councilforchildren.org or call the Council of Children at 508-226-2336.
LAURA CALVERLEY is a freelance writer for The Sun Chronicle. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
the Scenes - Christmas is for Kids opens doors to the
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2016 10:46 pm | Updated: 10:47 pm, Mon Nov 14, 2016.
BY JUDEE COSENTINO FOR THE SUN CHRONICLE
ATTLEBORO - Christmas Is For Kids headquarters at the former Brennan Middle School is usually only seen by volunteers, but Sunday afternoon offered a treat for the donors, as CIFK Chairwoman Kelly Fox held a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the nonprofit organization.
"I'll show you what we usually see," Fox told Linda Karaberis of Attleboro, who was the first person to show up for the tour. The first stop was the library, where Fox showed Karaberis a large copy of the organization's story sheet, where needy area children's Christmas wishes are filled out.
Karaberis was joined by Cindra Walsh of North Attleboro and Walsh's teenage daughter.
The two women listened attentively as Fox explained the check-in process for donations and the details of the story sheet forms, which are filled out by needy families for their children to receive Christmas gifts.
Fox told Karaberis and Walsh a story of a family whose oldest child was diagnosed with cancer and as a result of the father taking over the doctor's visits, only one paycheck was coming in to support the family of six.
"(The familes) are here because usually, something got in the way," Fox said.
Karaberis has been a CIFK donor for years, but never had the opportunity to step past the front door where she dropped off her donations.
"It was terrific to learn all this," Karaberis said. "It really makes me feel more compelled to give this year."
Christine Chapman, who is a board member for the Attleboro Area Council of Children, took Kevin and Renee Hellmuth on a tour as well. The Hellmuth's children, 8-year-old Bruce and 5-year-old Gretchen, were also part of the tour to learn what their good deeds do for other children, as the Hellmuths are regular contributors to CIFK.
"(The children) know that not every mom and dad both have jobs and good health," Renee Hellmuth told Chapman. "They get excited about picking out toys."
Kevin Hellmuth called the tour an "eye opener" and appreciated that his children were allowed to get a look behind the scenes.
"It's great to have the opportunity to see what was happening, and we thought Bruce and Gretchen needed to see it, and to get them some exposure about what people do for others," Hellmuth said.
Fox said she "loved" meeting the donors and answering their questions.
"It's always interesting to see what their perspective was when they walk through the door and how it changes," Fox said. "Once they see the background and they understand more about the families we're helping, it reinforces their desire to help."
The Christmas Is For Kids phone lines will open on Sunday, Nov. 20 from noon to 2 p.m., the same day that the 2016 list will appear in The Sun Chronicle and on its website, thesunchronicle.com. Donations willbe accepted starting on Monday, Nov. 21. For more information, visit councilforchildren.org/cifk.
Revved up for Christmas id for Kids Drive
Posted: Sunday, November 6, 2016 10:33 pm | Updated: 3:14 pm, Mon Nov 7, 2016.
NORTH ATTLEBORO - The kickstands of 132 motorcycles went up at 11:45 a.m. Sunday at the Harley-Davidson store in Pawtucket, as the Blackstone Valley Harley Owners Group kicked off their 23rd annual motorcycle run for Christmas Is For Kids with a resounding roar.
Along the route, several area residents, many of them children, stood on their lawns or at the end of their driveways and waved at the HOGS. Even farm animals and family pets seemed to notice the winding procession of motorcycles whizzing past on the scenic autumn route.
The 45-minute ride, which took the riders through 23 miles of back roads in Seekonk, Norton and North Attleboro, ended at the North Attleboro Elks Lodge, where CIFK chairperson Kelly Fox and her volunteers eagerly awaited the HOGS and their unwrapped toys for the organization.
Up to seven four-foot garbage bags were filled with toys.
"Even though it's been 23 years doing this, I think all of us get a lump in our throat when we see all the bikes come in," Fox said.
Fox thanked the HOGS for their time and generosity, adding some staggering statistics: over 70 children from New Hope, Inc. alone have reached out to the non-profit organization, which provides Christmas gifts for needy area children and their families.
In addition, Fox told the HOGS, the number of homeless children in the area has topped 100.
"Because of your help and your kindness, these kids will have a wonderful Christmas," an emotional Fox told the HOGS.
The sobering statistics resonated with HOGS road captain Kevin L. Morris, who has three daughters and eight grandchildren. Morris was dressed in a Santa Claus costume for the ride.
"I can imagine being on the other end of this," Morris said. "It strikes a note in your heart. (Riding the bike) is such an easy thing to do. ... It's fun doing it, and it's making such an impact on these children and their families."
HOGS director Dave Paille called the run a "humbling experience."
"Everyone thinks of bikers as these big tough guys, but seeing a kid wake up on Christmas morning without a present - we're really soft inside," Paille said.
is for Kids gears up for annual drive
Posted: Sunday, October 30, 2016 9:15 pm | Updated: 3:47 pm, Mon Oct 31, 2016.
ATTLEBORO - It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas here in Attleboro.
With the big holiday only nine weeks away, the volunteer elves at the Greater Attleboro Area Council for Children are getting ready for the group's major holiday gift drive, Christmas Is For Kids.
For more than 30 years, Christmas Is For Kids has been providing gifts for children in need. And it's not just toys; it's also coats, jeans, scarves, books, movies, gift cards and more - all the things that many of these children go without, organizers point out.
Christmas Is For Kids kicks off in a few weeks. Applications are available now for families that want to sign up.
How the gift drive works is that donors are "matched" to a child or family and then they shop for the items on the "wish list."
The gifts are dropped off at the Christmas Is For Kids headquarters at the former Brennan Middle School at 135 County St. in Attleboro before Dec. 7 and Christmas Is For Kids does the rest.
This year the drive will be adding Plainville to the list of towns it covers.
"We started with four towns, then we added Norton a few years ago and this year we're adding Plainville, which brings us to six towns that we are providing gifts to children," said Kelly Fox who is coordinating the drive for the 24th year.
Fox hopes to get businesses and donors from Plainville to donate or volunteer to help the children of Plainville.
She says that many families throughout the area are struggling.
"There is no question that the need is still there, but the need has morphed. About 40 percent of children we take care of, the parents applied directly. The rest come to us through area agencies. They are in group homes, shelters and foster care," Fox said.
The families who apply, says Fox, are often under-employed, under-educated, have mental health issues or can't work because they are taking care of disabled children.
"So many people assume that parents are sitting around collecting welfare, but that is not necessarily the case. Most of them are trying to work," Fox said.
More than 1,000 children are taken care of every year and it wouldn't be possible without the generosity of the community - the donors, businesses and more than 100 volunteers who help out.
"Christmas Is For Kids is a conduit between the generosity of the community and the children who benefit from that generosity," Fox said.
Applications are available online at councilforchildren.org and can be picked up at many local social service agencies or outside the office door at 4 Hodges Street in Attleboro. There is a list of locations on the website.
The Christmas Is For Kids drive will run through Dec. 7. For more information, visit councilforchildren.org or call the Council of Children at 508-226-2336.
LAURA CALVERLEY is a freelance writer for The Sun Chronicle. She can be reached at email@example.com.