It started two years ago with a child's request for new socks from Santa.
That was the inspiration Harrison resident Katherine Frankel wrote about as the Holiday Project got off the ground in 2010. Two years later, the project has bound together dozens of community members, local businesses and groups in an effort to provide holiday gifts to local families in need. Donations are now gathered every year then wrapped and delivered to doorsteps across Harrison.
Harrison resident Ruth Singer is chairing the third year of the Holiday Project. The task of collecting donations, organizing a wrapping party and coordinating drop offs across town is passed to a new person every year.
"It's a huge undertaking," Singer said. "There are a lot of working parts and it takes a lot of people to make it successful. We're very fortunate that people come together."
Part of what has made the project successful in the past is its wide reach across the community. Residents, local unions, businesses and community groups all pitch in to provide gifts for more than 100 local families in need. Volunteers deliver the packages to homes across town during the days leading up to Christmas.
For $150 per-family, local homes are saved from a holiday season without enough food or gifts for the children.
As the project's reach has grown over the last two years, so has the community need. When Frankel helped start the project in 2010 about 72 Harrison families received donations. This year there are 110 families, 356 people in total, who will receive a gift.
"It's a reflection of what's happening," Singer said.
But those families now have a chance to smile wide during the holiday season as volunteers deliver a package of gift-wrapped donations on their doorstep.
Singer said she will spend this week hitting the pavement and speaking to local businesses and past donors to ramp-up the fundraising effort. She said anyone can help by either sending a donation—contact information is below—or simply spreading word of the project to friends and neighbors.
The traditional gift-wrapping party will take place on Dec. 16.
"We have piles and people come and we wrap and we put them together in our bags," Singer said.
A new chairperson is selected to lead the project every year. Jill Valente took over the project last year, and responsibilities were passed to Singer this year.
"I like to get involved in my community where I can actually see an impact," Singer said.
This project certainly does just that.
To make a donation to the Holiday Project, please write a check to Town of Harrison Holiday Project and mail it to Ruth Singer, at 68 Sunnyridge Road, Harrison. Please include an e-mail address for an invite to the wrapping party.