Traditionally, the holiday season is marked by thoughts of giving. Yet for many children the focus is on getting. Giving doesn’t come naturally to children, sharing has to be taught. Yet, giving is a behavior that can be cultivated and celebrated.
Here are a few ways your family might help others this holiday season and in doing so help yourself to some true holiday cheer.
Since 2001 Westchester resident Genevieve Piturro, founder of the Pajama Program, has been helping children to get a good night’s sleep. Inspired by a little girl in a shelter who admitted she didn’t know what pajamas were, Piturro has been distributing new pajamas and books throughout the country. The nonprofit program works diligently to get new, warm pajamas and books to the children in need. “The January, February and March time period when the weather gets colder is especially important,” says Piturro, making giving pajamas and books or a financial contribution during the holiday season especially timely. And while the organization receives many donations for young kids, Piturro asks us to remember tweens and teens when making our donations. “We serve many older children in Westchester and they would love pajamas and age appropriate books to read. “Pajamas in larger sizes and any Harry Potter book is always welcome,” says Piturro.
The Westchester Bank has been proudly supporting the Pajama Program since 2011. Each year they eagerly gather donations. In addition, this year five bank employees read to The Pajama Program kids at the Abbott House in Irvington. They are also lending a hand with the Dec. 1, 2018 Green Grass Real Estate “A Purposeful Morning at the Movies” event at Bronxville Cinemas in Bronxville. Families are invited to take a pair of new pajamas or new books to donate. The event will feature a free morning of fun activities and a movie. Search Green Grass Real Estate at event
The Pajama Program
114 E. 39th St., New York, N.Y.
Goodies that Share
Chocolate goodies are one of the pleasures of the holiday season. If you plan on giving sweets as gifts (business or personal) or if you’d like to serve them at your seasonal gathering, consider purchasing Greyston brownies or cookies. You’ll do more than satisfy a sweet tooth. Through open hiring, Greyston creates jobs and provides programs for impoverished individuals and their families to become self-sufficient. Meaning they not only make goodies, but also do good. You can order through their website.
104 Alexander St., Yonkers
A Full Tummy
Believe it or not, Westchester County has 200,000 people who are at risk of hunger or are facing food insecurity. Many of them are children, seniors and the working poor. Food is needed year round, but the holidays are always a great time to give from the heart.
Feeding Westchester can use your time, funds or donations of food to help those in need. In fact, families and children are welcome to volunteer. Feeding Westchester is the heart of a network of more than 300 partners who work to source and distribute food, and other resources, to towns across Westchester helping to ensure that none of our neighbors are hungry. The Feeding Westchester website lists what items are most in need and how you can volunteer. Support the 2018 Feed a Family campaign and every $25 you give provides a complete holiday meal for a family struggling with hunger.
Some businesses are stepping up to help too. Local Shoprites, Green’s Natural Food Market and Balducci’s Food Lovers Markets are participating in the Feeding Westchester Check-Out Hunger® program that allows customers to donate to the program while they check out. The program runs through Jan. 2, 2019.
200 Clearbrook Road, Elmsford
Home, Sweet Home
There are many families that lack proper beds, tables and chairs or somewhere to keep their clothing. A contribution to the Furniture Warehouse helps provide families and individuals with the essential household furnishings free of charge. You can donate funds, furniture or volunteer your time to help. Visit their website for donation guidelines. That side table or extra chair in your basement can help make life easier for someone in need.
If you want to get the chills read the Thank You Notes on their website from individuals and families that have been helped.
Building #3, Airport Road, Westchester
The Gift of Play
Many children create elaborate toy wish lists during the holiday season and parents do their best to make their dreams come true. Yet, other children have little chance of getting any gift, never mind a toy.
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program collects new unwrapped toys to distribute to needy children. Drop off a toy by Dec. 19 at more than 100 locations in the county. See website for a complete list of donation sites.
Many local businesses are helping out by serving as collection sites and making their own donations. Berger Hardware in Hawthorne, Grand Prix New York in Mt. Kisco and A Game Sport in New Rochelle are just a few of the businesses helping to make every child’s holiday bright.
Toys for Tots
P.O. Box 1207, White Plains
All parents want to keep their kids safe, and helping others to stay safe is an important lesson to teach our children. Hope’s Door works to end domestic violence and to empower victims to achieve safety, independence and healing from the trauma of abuse.
Your family can help by donating used smartphones and cell phones, put together Children’s Welcome Gift Bags, or contribute your time or a variety of Wish List items that you can find on Hope’s Door website.
Our Furry Friends
Children are especially drawn to animals and what better way to teach care and compassion than making a donation of funds or items to a local center. Kids might like to shop with you for toys for the animals or other necessary items. Contact the shelters to find out more about their immediate needs.
SPCA of Westchester
590 North State Road, Briarcliff Manor
Humane Society of Westchester
70 Portman Road, New Rochelle
Mt. Vernon Animal Shelter
600 Garden Ave., Mount Vernon