NEW GARDEN—More than 550 families in southern Chester County are getting the Christmas of their dreams thanks to generosity of local businesses, service organizations, school groups and volunteers.
During a steady rain on Saturday, coats, toys, bicycles, and food for a complete Christmas meal were distributed at the 65th annual Christmas Basket program. Distribution took place at the New Garden Maintenance Garage, and the Kennett Area Food Cupboard. About 80 seniors at the Luther House in West Grove were beneficiaries as well, and volunteers delivered food baskets to 14 who are in the Meals on Wheels program.
“This is a huge collaboration,” said Melanie Weiler, executive director of Kennett Area Community Services. “It has been a tough year for a lot of people and for many families their budget is tight, so this is a great break.”
Children got to visit Santa and color in coloring books, while their parents picked out coats, and toys that will be placed under the Christmas tree.
Hundreds of volunteers helped out to push clients’ grocery carts to their cars.
“It’s heartwarming to see so many people care about others who are in need,” said Dennis Arrouet, who helped out on behalf of the Longwood Rotary Club.
Planning for the event is almost a year-round process that brings every sector of the community together. It begins in March each year as an appeal to the New Garden supervisors, who allow KACS to take over the space at the township maintenance garage for four days each year.
“I feel so lucky and appreciative where I am in life, so this is the least I can do,” said Anton Andrew of Kennett Township, who came out Saturday morning to help. “The rain didn’t dampen any spirits and the turnout is fantastic, I will be helping out with this the rest of my life.”
Drive organizers began planning for the event in August. Toys for Tots organizers reached out to local schools and businesses to collect new, unwrapped toys, so that parents can select a few toys for their children. More than 2,000 gently used coats were used for distribution.
The clients were selected from many non-profit organizations in the Unionville and Kennett areas, such as Tick Tock Early Learning Center, LaComunidad Hispana, The Kennett Food Cupboard, St. Rocco’s Church and even Kennett’s Study Buddies. All are living at or below the federal poverty line.
KACS, home of the Kennett Food Cupboard, provides food to over 750 households throughout the year. In addition to hunger relief, KACS runs a homeless prevention program to over 300 families and provides permanent housing solutions for 60-80 homeless households each year. For more information, contact 610-925-3556 or visit www.kacsonline.net.