The Season of Giving: Helping those in need have happier holidays
Marsland is gratified by the strong community support the organization receives. “What impresses me and excites me every year is the number of individuals and clubs that come up with their own events to raise money for Gifts of Hope,” he says. “We could never do all that on our own.”
On Martha’s Vineyard, the Red Stocking Fund has been making life better for islanders in need since the late 1930s, when an island woman enlisted the help of friends to knit stockings to hold Christmas presents for needy children.
“They actually knitted stockings and put presents in them,” says Susie Wallo, co-chair of the nonprofit organization.
Although knitting is no longer involved, the Red Stocking Fund continues to provide new clothing and toys to children whose Christmas might otherwise be sparse. Children in the program—whose identities are kept confidential—receive pajamas, socks and underwear, hats, mittens or gloves, and other clothing according to need, plus a toy chosen from a wish list submitted by parents. In addition, “We make sure every child gets a book and some art supplies,” Wallo says. “Last year we helped about 350 kids have Christmas.”
The organization is run entirely by volunteers and relies on donations from local businesses and individuals. “We do not advertise, we don’t do social media,” Wallo says. “We’re very grassroots.”
Although it does not do any fundraising events, the Red Stocking Fund is the grateful recipient of proceeds from the Christmas in Edgartown Chowder Contest, WMVY’s annual Big Chili Contest in March, and the MV Harley Riders November toys for tots ride.
“The Island community is incredibly generous in many, many ways, all throughout the year. Because we are an island, we really do need to take care of one another, and we do,” says Sandy Joyce, who co-chairs the Red Stocking Fund with Wallo. “People donate money, toys, clothing, and give their time organizing, shopping and wrapping. We get amazing support from our local businesses. They do all this to be sure that the Island children in need during the holiday season have a Christmas, and really, at the end of the day, Islanders are always there for one another.”
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