RANDOLPH, NJ- For the past 14 years during the holiday season, Randolph teacher Jim Moen has taken festive students and teachers to La Vida Daycare Center in Paterson, NJ.
The trip has been growing, and this year was the biggest one yet. With approximately 50 students and three teachers on the trip, Randolph High School brought approximately 500 gifts and six bags of clothes to the kids at La Vida Daycare Center.
“I panic around three or four days before we go on the trip that we won’t have enough toys and then the floodgates of generosity always open,” Moen said.
The daycare center is located in the same building as Straight & Narrow, a non-profit drug rehabilitation center, which has been a part of Paterson for 60 years.
La Vida Daycare Center assists the working families to deal with the very expensive and sometimes impossible situation of daycare. Some kids come from either families with one parent, no parents, or are a part of an extended family.
Erica Colton, a senior at Randolph High School, said, “I had an amazing time and it was so rewarding to give back to the kids. Watching their eyes light up after seeing Santa and getting a present was amazing.”
14 years ago, Moen and Gerry McGrath started the trip to Patterson with a few kids and a few toys. Four years later, the group added more students, toys, and Santa.
Three years after that, Moen decided to bring instruments and have the students perform.
Moen said, “Every year, the kids actually put a show on for us, so we put a show on for them. They get very proud of their music which they should be because it’s phenomenal.”
Randolph High School was able to go to La Vida Daycare center twice last year and is hoping to go again this year. Last spring RHS went down to help improve the playground and work on other outdoor projects. This year, Moen wants to create a mural in the playground area.
Jenna Coyne, a senior at Randolph High School, said, “It was the most fun I’ve ever had on a field trip. It was amazing to see how happy the kids were from such little gestures.”