16 Nov Worcester Housing Authority on T&G Santa’s List
WORCESTER ― Since 1938, the T&G Santa Fund has brightened Christmas for thousands of local children whose circumstances call for a bit of elfin intervention.
This year, the 84-year tradition continues as Santa’s Worcester workshop, otherwise known as the newspaper, partners with the United Way of Central Massachusetts to turn monetary donations into gifts for children under the care of nonprofit service agencies and organizations.
The generosity of local businesses, foundations, organizations and our readers help us fill the sleigh each year, and for this, all here in Santa’s workshop are grateful.
Last year, our donors gave nearly $110,000 for the purchase of 10,627 toys and 1,691 books that were placed in the hands of 5,267 children.
“It’s magical to be able to do this for the kids,” Erin Wilson said recently while chatting about T&G Santa.
Wilson is vice president of resident services for the Worcester Housing Authority.
This year the magic will happen for 400 or so children living in the WHA’s Great Brook Valley Gardens and Curtis Apartments.
Those two locations combined, Wilson said, house roughly 1,000 families with several thousand children of varying ages.
“Last year we received a large donation from a sponsor who wanted us to provide toys,” Wilson said. “We turned that into a toy distribution day with the most fantastic Santa, hot cocoa and candy canes. It was, for the lack of a better term, magical.”
Gifts for 300 kids in WHA last year
The one-time donation made to the WHA last year provided gifts for 300 kids.
“It really was a beautiful day, so we wanted to do it again this year. We looked to connect with the T&G Santa Fund to continue what we hoped would be a tradition at the Housing Authority,” Wilson said.
For 32-year-old Stephanie and her 2-year-old daughter, the timing of that newfound tradition couldn’t be better.
“This is my first year here and I’m very excited about the Santa program,” Stephanie said. “I think Christmas is important for every child. Every child deserves to wake up to something special on the holiday. Unfortunately, since COVID, everybody has been hit hard and everybody needs a little help.”
Stephanie was accepted into WHA’s Transitional Housing Program in September.
“Before this, my daughter and I were in a shelter. They have been very helpful here,” she said. “I just feel very fortunate and blessed to have been picked for this program. I feel like I have an extended family with them here.”
For Wilson and the WHA, it’s all about supporting parents during the often difficult holiday season.
“I have worked with families for a really long time here and parents want nothing more than to give to their children and do good things for their children,” Wilson said. “When we give to those families, they are able to give to their kids what, at this moment in time, they are not able to provide.”
Wanted: Gift wrapping, tape, bags
While T&G Santa will deliver on the gifts, Wilson said the WHA is also seeking donations of wrapping paper, tape and gift bags so families can give their children that traditional wrapped gift on Christmas morning.
As the second-largest housing authority in New England, the WHA oversees nearly 3,000 federal and state-subsidized public housing units in programs established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, elderly and persons with disabilities.
This is the first Christmas in which T&G Santa and the United Way will help parents and caregivers under the WHA umbrella make holiday magic happen.
“We are so, so thankful. Without this donation, this event would not happen this year. We are incredibly grateful and appreciative,” Wilson said.
The United Way identifies nonprofit family and child service organizations to receive the thousands of gifts and place them in the hands of the children they serve.
The WHA is one of 21 organizations acting as T&G Santa’s helpers this year.
The others are Canterbury Elementary School; Catholic Charities of Southbridge and Worcester; Centro Inc.; the state Department of Mental Health; Devereux Therapeutic Foster Care; Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health; Friendly House; Gardner Community Action Committee; Guild of St. Agnes; Jeremiah’s Inn; Pernet Family Health Service; Rainbow Child Development Center; Salvation Army of Fitchburg, Greater Milford, and Worcester; Spanish American Center; Webster Square Daycare Center; Winchendon Community Action Committee; and Yes We Care.
1. Click MAKE A DONATION here or below to make a donation to the T&G Santa Fund using your credit cards.
2. Print and complete the coupon above and mail a check or money order to Telegram & Gazette Santa Fund, c/o Berkshire Bank, PO Box 15020, Worcester, MA 01615-0020.
Thank you very much for your donation.
(article by: Debbie LaPlaca Correspondent at Telegram & Gazette)