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NJCDC Makes the Holidays Magical for Almost 1,400 Paterson Kids

NJCDC Makes the Holidays Magical for Almost 1,400 Paterson Kids

December 27, 2023

Please view photos of the event on

Click here for a story on this event from WABC-TV.

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people. For many families in Paterson, this time of year only gets harder, as parents already struggling to provide necessities for their children still want to make the holidays exciting for their children. This year in Paterson, many families also faced additional struggles due to the recent flooding the area, causing already vulnerable residents to lose clothing or housing. Every year, NJCDC holds a Holiday Toy Drive & Party, to make sure these kids can still have a magical holiday season.

The Holiday Toy Drive & Party is NJCDC's longest-running tradition—we've hosted it every year since our organization's founding in 1994. This year, we celebrated a very special milestone, with our 30th Annual Holiday Party! Thanks to our donors, AmeriCorps members, NJCDC staff, and volunteers, we were able to give more than 7,000 toys to the 600 Paterson families who registered and their 1,400 children this year.

Our AmeriCorps program began preparing for this year's Toy Drive in the fall, and after several weeks of soliciting, collecting, and organizing toy donations for Paterson children in need, the AmeriCorps members were excited to finally host our Holiday Party on December 24th—Christmas Eve Day. The Holiday Party was held in the Community Charter School of Paterson's middle school gymnasium, and was generously underwritten by the Daleo Family.

In addition to receiving toys, kids and their families got to take pictures with Santa—or Mayor Claus, played by Mayor Andre Sayegh. "No one goes home without Christmas," he said. We also held several raffles during the event, with prizes for both kids and adults. There were inflatables for kids to play on, music to dance to, and many holiday crafts.

This event wouldn't have been possible without the hard work of our AmeriCorps members and many volunteers, including NJCDC's Board members, Martin Vergara and Don Buckley, and their families. Gifts and toys were donated throughout the fall and winter by many generous donors, including TD Bank, Pascack Hills High School's Project Paterson Club, the Cranford Jaycees, Nana's Gift, and Cross River Bank.

It's important because the families are faced with so much adversity right now. We're trying to relieve the pain that they're going through," said AmeriCorps director Gabrielle Foushee. In addition to toys, this year the AmeriCorps team worked hard to provide families with necessities they lost in the floods. "We try our best to connect them with other networks and other programs that can help relieve that stress and burden.

One parent shared that Christmas was harder for her children this year, because their grandmother had recently passed away. "Our Christmas is really rocky, because she was mainly the one to make our spirits go up," she said. "We do whatever we can for them to make their holidays special."

NJCDC Founder & CEO Bob Guarasci said, "I am so happy that everyone could be here. This is our 30th Annual Holiday Party, and we will continue to have this Holiday Party for another 30 years and beyond. For many of the children and families we serve, it is truly a holiday miracle—especially this year, as Paterson's children and families are dealing with the recent flooding. Thank you to all of our wonderful donors and our hardworking staff and AmeriCorps members, who made this event possible!"

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