The annual Holiday Project literally ‘wrapped’ up this week, with volunteers gathering to prepare hundreds of gifts purchased and donated by residents and businesses for local families in need.
Now in its second year, the holiday project is a local effort to raise money and donations to provide local families with things like food, gas cards and presents during the holiday season.
This welcomed about 40 volunteers of all ages into her home this week to wrap and assemble 130 bags of presents and other goodies families would have gone without this holiday season.
Since taking over the project earlier this year, Valente said the community support and number of individuals who spent large amounts of time helping bring the project to fruition have been overwhelming.
“I met some wonderful people through this project," she said.
Among dozens of other volunteers, Ruth Singer wrapped gifts and helped organize the gift bags, Diana Eppolito handled a lot of the administrative on top of bringing in almost one third of the donations. Josephine Corso from the Harrison Police Department coordinated donations from the town’s unions and even arranged for Santa to visit during the wrapping party.
Businesses including Goldberg’s Rock ‘n Roll Bagel Café, the , , , Starbucks, , , , , Louis Felice Landscaping, and the all donated cash or goods.
The Shield and Cross Motorcycle Club, the Lions Club and the added financial support, as did the PBA, the Professional Firefighters Association and the .
Harrison’s generosity was not limited to just adult donors. Julia Goldstein, 13, chose The Holiday Project as her mitzvah, donating a portion of her Bat Mitzvah gifts to the project and getting her family involved with bag assembly. Monica Sposato's Girl Scout troop donated toys for younger children, and did a toy drive and made a cash donation.
Individuals across town also sponsored families. In addition to the thousands of dollars worth of donated goods, an additional $18,000 was raised to buy food and other goods for the Harrison Food Pantry. Thanks to the efforts of Councilman Joe Canella and Comptroller Maureen MacKenzie, donations to were tax deductible this year.
For a second year, members of the will deliver the goods a few days before Christmas.
“It’s (been) exhausting and overwhelming but incredibly fulfilling,” said Valente.
The project, which has become one of the most widely supported projects of the town calendar, is now seeking a coordinator for next year. Those interested in leading the project for the upcoming year should contact Director of Community Services Nina Marraccini.