MANCHESTER – Nearly four decades have gone by since a township first grade teacher unknowingly began what has become a wonderful and much appreciated Christmas tradition.
The teacher asked her class, “What is Santa Claus going to bring you on Christmas Eve?” The answer from one of her students broke the teacher’s heart.
The student wrote, “Santa Claus never comes to my house.” Saddened by the boy’s story, the school staff started a drive to help the boy and his family as well as a handful of other needy children. The Kevin’s Kids Drive started and is now marking its 39th year.
The demand has grown over time, and this year there is a list of families that school officials anticipate will include around 300 children.
The mission of Kevin’s Kids Drive is to provide not only toys but also much needed necessities such as clothing and food. “Yes, this is a Christmas drive, but hopefully the necessities provided will help parents in these difficult times throughout the year,” said Alex George, director of Student and Administrative Services, and chairperson for the drive.
“Through the generosity of the Manchester School District, the Manchester Police, many local businesses, senior villages and the entire Manchester community, the Kevin’s Kids Christmas Drive hopes to grant the specific Wish List of each child,” George explained.
George added, “teachers contact parents of the identified children and develop the wish list of each child. During this process, staff discover that for so many of these children it is the very first ‘new’ pair of sneakers or that first brand new outfit for school or a bicycle that will be their own, instead of one that someone else discarded.”
“This holiday drive enables ‘Santa’ to visit the home of each of these disadvantaged children, bringing not just gifts but joy. The children and families that we help struggle every other day of the year and we want them to have at least one special day full of surprise and delight. It offers these children the chance to believe that good things can happen to them,” George said.
“We ask individuals, businesses and community groups for any contribution that you can make to help us carry out our pledge to make sure that Santa Claus visits every home in Manchester. Each donation goes directly to buy food, new toys and clothing for every child identified on our list. It is through your help and generosity that we can achieve our goal,” he said.
To donate to the program, you can visit the Kevin’s Kids webpage at manchestertwp.org/kevinskids for updates and more information. You can also make checks payable to Manchester Township Middle School with “Kevin’s Kids” written in the memo section and mail to: Kevin’s Kids, Manchester Twp Middle School, 2759 Ridgeway Road, Manchester, NJ 08759.
Donations of new toys and clothing are also accepted at any Manchester school and at various businesses around town, listed on the Kevin’s Kids webpage.
The deadline for monetary donations is December 10. The toy dropoff deadline is Dec. 9. For further information contact George at email@example.com or call 732-350-5900.