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Inside Santa’s Workshop

Posted on 22 December 2011 by Editor

Sloatsburg — Inside the Sloatsburg Fire Hall, full bags lined in straight rows were neatly coded with particular messages. Boy 12. Family of 4. Girl 8. Family of 6. Clothes and gifts were being readied from made-to-order lists by children in the Sloatsburg area, lists collected from Sloatsburg Elementary School, Saint Joan of Arc Church and the Sloatsburg United Methodist Church. The Fire Hall this time of year is the inner workings of Sloatsburg’s version of Santa’s Workshop, filled with holiday spirit and volunteers wrapping gifts of clothes and toys that will go to children who are part of the Needy Children Program, a longtime Village of Sloatsburg charity and outreach program.

The premise of the program is rooted in the gift of giving. A line of former Sloatsburg Fire Chiefs appeared to watch over the activity approvingly from their place of honor on the hall wall.

“The families that are in need come through the schools and the churches,” said Sloatsburg Mayor Carl Wright. “It’s the idea and spirit. The generosity. Christmas is going to be a little bit better for someone out there.” More than 30 Sloatsburg families participate in the program.

Tom Bollatto, Sloatsburg Village clerk and treasurer and Central Ramapo School Board member, visited quietly with volunteers as they tended to piles of presents. Teachers from Sloatsburg Elementary School worked on packages that will be distributed anonymously to families in need with children who attend the school. Michele Zeidman, school secretary who runs an efficient front office at Sloatsburg Elementary, was lending a hand, her third year helping with the program.

“Most everyone here today are teachers,” said Zeidman, looking out over the busy hall. “All volunteering to wrap gifts. But most of the work was done by the Village gals that work upstairs here at the Village Hall.”

The Needy Children Program is coordinated from the Sloatsburg clerk’s office, with the entire Village office staff volunteering time throughout the year to make the program successful. Funding for the program comes from community and business donations, with the Sloatsburg Annual Golf Outing acting as the program’s major yearly fundraiser. Program toys are purchased from the popular Suffern Police toy drive, spearheaded by Chief Clark Osborne, and now in its 21st year.

Additionally, Breakfast with Santa at the Sloatsburg Elementary School, which took place in early December, is part of the the Sloatsburg Needy Children Program.

“There’s a huge community of volunteers involved in the program,” said a Sloatsburg Village Hall staff member, who wished to remain anonymous. In fact, much of the work for the program is done quietly and anonymously throughout the community during the year, with help from seniors, teachers, residents, Village staff. This year, the program had 12 shoppers who fanned out to fill Santa’s list of requests, with many more offers of help pouring in.

“It’s a very rewarding program,” said the staff member.

After a year of planning and volunteer work, the colorful, neatly wrapped packages disappear into bags and are quietly whisked away to their final destination — a warm home where someone’s child will happily tear open gifts it took a village to give.





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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Samantha Says:

    This is really heartwarming. I never even realized Sloatsburg had such a tireless network of volunteers working so hard behind the scenes. Reading the stories on this site have shown me that my hometown is even greater than I already knew it was!

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