By JESSICA HARDING
The Community YMCA in Shrewsbury has launched a holiday gift drive to bring some jolly cheer to struggling families in Monmouth County.
Local businesses and residents are invited to help give back to others during the holiday season.
The gift drive is coordinated by the YMCA’s Counseling and Social Services branch. The vice president of the branch, Colleen Verriest, cherishes this time of year and the opportunity to assist others.
“The holiday gift drive has been going on for at least 15 years and has grown tremendously.” she shared. “It is a labor of love and something we do to provide a holiday for the families we serve, who would not have the means to do so on their own.”
There are many ways to support the holiday gift drive — Adopt-a Family, gift donations, Amazon Wish List and Giving Trees are all useful options.
Through Adopt-a-Family, donors can choose a family and provide gifts from their “wish lists.” Verriest has seen the diverse wants and needs from families throughout her 13 years participating.
“We see requests for diapers, lotions that help dry skin, toiletries, sheets; many things that we might take for granted.” she said.
Donors can also partake in the drive through gift donations.
Unwrapped toys and gift cards can be dropped off until Dec. 12 in one of two YMCA locations: Family Health and Wellness Center, 166 Maple Ave., Red Bank, or the YMCA Counseling and Social Services located at 613 Hope Rd., Bldg. 4, second floor, Eatontown.
One of the more popular ways to contribute is by purchasing a Giving Tree. Donors can display this tree in their businesses to get employees and customers to participate. You simply select an ornament with a child’s gift wish and return the gift to that location by Dec 12.
Janice Lee Doran of Master Consulting of Red Bank has chosen this method of gift giving along with her staff.
“We email employees and let them know some of the wishes of the families.” she explained. “Some departments like to work together and buy gifts. We all work as a team because the drive is a wonderful opportunity. The children feel like our children and we can picture in our minds what their needs are.”
Community members also have the option of purchasing a child’s gift online from the YMCA’s Wish List on Amazon.com.
Verriest urges residents and businesses to join in and spread holiday cheer to these families.
“The donated gifts bring great happiness to the children and families who we serve, many of whom are victims of abuse, neglect, in the foster care system, or who have special needs.” she said.
Last year, the Holiday Gift Drive succeeded in brightening the holidays for 428 children, as $64,000 in gifts were donated. The YMCA would like to see an increase this year.
For more information on the drive, please reach out to coordinator, Danielle Formica, at 732-544-4544.