PAWTUCKET – As it has for more than 25 years, the Blackstone Valley Community Action Program this week gave out thousands of toys as well as hats, gloves and mittens to brighten the holiday season of area families.
The program again partnered with city-based toymaker Hasbro, which contributed almost 5,000 toys, along with the Children's Holiday Hope Fund sponsored by the Providence Journal, which donated the hats and mittens for children ages 1 to 12.
More than 4,000 families registered this year for the holiday help through a process overseen by the R.I. Department of Human Services, according to program Executive Director Vincent Ceglie.
Staff and volunteers passed out the items from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Dec. 11, when the early line stretched outside circling the Woodlawn Community Center at 210 West Ave., and again the next day, when Mayor Donald R. Grebien stopped by to help.
“Thanks to BVCAP and all these generous donors and volunteers, a lot of families will be having a brighter holiday season,” said Grebien, sporting the red and white elf cap Ceglie annually has waiting for him.
Liza and Paul Nighan, of Pawtucket, said the assistance is very timely for them this year, with Paul recovering from knee replacement surgery and Liza soon to give birth to their second child who will join their 5-year-old daughter.
“This does help. It's more than appreciated,” Liza said.
Edith Pacheco was picking up toys and warm clothing for her children ages 4, 5 and 8. “It helps out a lot,” she smiled as Grebien topped off her list with the Hasbro board game Monopoly.
Debbie Gardner, director of Family and Youth Service for the program, noted that around 20 members of the R.I. Correctional Officers Search and Rescue team, an all-volunteer unit that assists local, state and federal agencies in search and rescue operations, for the third year in a row arrived early to offload the trucks and bring the gifts inside the Woodlawn Community Center on Wednesday morning.
“They enjoy it,” said Gardner's husband Wayne, said of his fellow members on the Search and Rescue team. “We try to beat our [prior] time every year,” and this time got the job done in an hour, he said.