EAST BRUNSWICK – For the Middlesex County’s 4-H Youth Development Program, this year’s holiday season marked 25 years of selflessness and giving.
The arrival of the holiday season certainly creates excitement for communities as people embrace the festive spirit. However, for some families, the holidays can be a source of emotional and financial stress.
To remedy this problem, the Middlesex County’s 4-H program introduced Project Gift in 1997. The community outreach actively raises money through donations and fundraisers to provide free gifts to local families. In its history, the annual event has raised nearly $250,000 and has distributed over 20,000 gifts to 6,500 children and teens.
On Dec. 17, local volunteers gathered at the Middlesex County 4-H Center in East Brunswick to organize 1,000 new gifts. According to 4-H, the prep day before the official event is the result of different fundraising projects.
“Throughout the year, the Teen Council holds fundraisers in order to amass enough money for Project Gift. We then buy presents for children of all ages, wrap them, and set up rows of tables filled with these gifts,” according to 4-H program officials.
Over 120 families arrived at the 4-H center on Dec. 18 to choose from $10,000 worth of gifts. The private event ensures that families can shop in peace without the interference of the public or media. In addition, parents and guardians were provided with food, childcare, and a gift-wrapping station.
For 4-H, the initiative provides an opportunity for the local youth to serve their communities. This year, over 75 4-H members helped to dedicate hundreds of hours to gather donations.
Middlesex County 4-H Agent Laura Bovitz stated, “To see the smiles on the faces of these young people and understanding that our efforts are creating a positive impact on their lives and families, makes all the difference. There is no greater joy than to know that Middlesex County’s 4-H is helping to make priceless memories around the holidays.”
Regarding the program, Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios stated that the project is a difference maker for families in the community.
“Since it began 25 years ago, Project Gift has made a huge difference in our community by supplying more than 20,000 gifts to Middlesex County families in need. I want to thank all the 4-H members, as well as all the 4-H advisers, for all of the hard work they put into making this year’s Project GIFT a success,” Rios said.
For more information on donations and next year’s Project Gift, visit http://4hprojectgift.org/