MILLBURN, NJ — For the ninth year in a row, members of Caring Kids, a Millburn-based charity group got together at Hartshorn Elementary School over the weekend to wrap gifts.
But the twist of the event was that none of the people in attendance would get even one of those gifts on Christmas morning. Instead, they were all collected and readied by Caring Kids for donation to New Jersey Regional Day School in Newark, NJ.
The group facilitates the delivery of the package to go on and kep going. And as the factory owner sees in their sleigh, with another waves around it to get in the holiday spirit.
According to Sharon Cohen, one of th organizers of the event, approximately 1,400 gifts were collected from donations across the past few weeks.
In addition, the group collected $4,8000 in Shop-Rite Gift Cards to send to families at the school, as some of them are also food insecure, and need help to pay for purchases.
Cohen noted that it was . large amount of work to organize, but it was for a worth cause.
"In terms of volume and time commitment, it is absolutely the biggest event of the year," Cohen said."We partnered with New Jersey Regional Day School in Newark.
"And the population there have every significant disabilities...so what we do is we get a list of all the students, their privacy is 100 percent protected obviously. And we provide every single student with gifts for Christmas. Every single one,we don't miss one."
Cohen also said that every year, the township is always so generous, and it blows her away to see people help and go above and beyond the call of duty, something she says is "awe-inspiring."
Over the course of the afternoon, volunteers worked to wrap gifts, create cards and drop off presents that had already been pre-wrapped. For those in attendance, fun activities were also sprinkled around the room, and food was available to snack on from start to finish.
New Jersey Regional Day School's principal Jennifer Mitchell also stopped by in the back half of the day to check up on the work being done.
"It's overwhelming what they do," Mitchell said, referring to the work of Caring Kids. "The idea that all the students at regional day get a Christmas wish is amazing. When they talk about equity, every child deserves that, especially the beautiful children at regional day, and the fact that Caring Kids do this is just amazing."
For Sheila Hampton, who helped to wrap gifts on Saturday, her work with the gift drive goes back years.
"I've been doing it since they started it," Hampton said. "It's been amazing, what Sharon and Kim and the whole group of them did. When we started, as I said, it was in Sharon Cohen's kitchen. There were about maybe eight or nine of us wrapping gifts."
Hampton said that from then to now, the scope of the event has increased exponentially, and when Hartshorn School stepped up and volunteered the use of their cafeteria for the event starting a few years back, the drive just got bigger, something she is thankful for.