PATERSON, NJ - Just hours before the City of Paterson officially ushered in the Christmas season by switching on the lights to the tree standing proudly outside of City Hall members of the Paterson Great Falls Rotary Club showed they were already in the giving spirit.
Transforming the community room at the Christopher Hope Community Center on Temple Street into a “winter carnival” local children were treated to pizza, popcorn, face painting, balloon animals, and fun.
The Paterson Great Falls Rotary Club was joined by three other area clubs in the effort, all part of Rotary International which boasts more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 clubs across the globe. Rotary is, according the Great Falls club’s website, “respected worldwide for its humanitarian efforts, peacekeeping initiatives and commitment to voluntary service.”
Meeting their noble mission of putting “service above self,” the event also featured the opportunity for each child to walk away with a new winter coat, gloves, and hat for the coming season donated jointly by Raj Bhatia, Past Governor of Rotary District 7490, Gina Sarwari, of the Northern Valley Rotary Club, and Operation Warmth.
The effort, Sarwari, an Afghanistan born manager with Trustco Bank said, reflects her “passion for giving” which also extends to providing funding so that 300 children can go to school in the community she was born in halfway across the globe.
Also on hand at the event was Alonzo Traylor, a Paterson born and raised published author who read his book, “Please Don’t Hurt Me,” a story, he offered, that’s told through a child’s eyes and that he hopes will help avoid child abuse before it happens.
“There’s more to life than spanking or yelling at a child,” Traylor, who said he was inspired to write the book after hearing a news report of the tragic death of a little girl at the hands of her parents nearly 15 years ago. “Children are like sponges, they absorb,” he continued. “Talk to them and you can make them understanding,” without resorting to hitting or yelling.
Among the nearly 50 children that enjoyed the festivities was 12-year-old Leslie who attended with her parent and three siblings. Their family learned about the event through the the Pentecostal Church of God which they are members of, and thought it would be a “fun” way to spend the afternoon. Asked about the coats and other winter wear being given away the aspiring chef told TAPinto Paterson that she thought it was “awesome.”
“I appreciate them,” she said before adding that she’d also like to help those that “need more than we do,” and that when she gets older hopes she can “buy a bunch of things to give away.”
Her vision for the future of Paterson, Leslie concluded: The world should get better.
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