Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the individuals that Allies, Inc. serves were not able to travel and visit their family for Christmas. But thanks to generosity from the community, family members, and Allies staff, those who celebrated the holiday at home this year still had a joyful time.
Loretta Rarrick, Director of Community Outreach at Allies, remarked, “Since many people couldn’t be with their loved ones this year, it was even more important to ensure that those we serve had a special gift to open on Christmas morning.”
Loretta organized a “Christmas Wish List,” and connected with group home managers to find out what each person hoped to receive as a gift. Gift requests ranged from Amazon and Dunkin Donut gift cards, to cozy sweaters, gloves, and pajamas, to cologne, lottery scratch offs and “anything Elvis or Superman.”
The list was shared with Allies staff, as well as with local companies and churches, and the gifts came pouring in. As presents wrapped in red, green, gold and silver decorations were dropped off, the Allies headquarters began to look like Santa’s sparkly workshop.
Allies also received monetary donations from individuals’ family members and guardians that helped to ensure that all 136 people on the Christmas Wish List would receive the gifts they asked for.
Christmas day was filled with smiles, the sound of gift wrap tearing, and lots of laughter as everyone opened their gifts. Some group homes were also delighted to be visited by Old Saint Nick himself, aka Gary Nahrwold, a Maintenance Technician at Allies.
Gary said, “With Day Program facilities closed, and outings being cancelled, I wanted to bring some sunshine and happiness to the individuals that I serve in my counties by dressing up as Santa and stopping in as many homes as possible.” (Santa was sure to wear his mask and gloves!) Despite the challenges of 2020, the year ended on a very happy and festive note.
The Allies family would like to thank everyone who helped to fulfill these special Christmas wishes. Your kindness and generosity added much-needed cheer and magic this holiday season, and we wish you and your family a very healthy and happy year ahead.
Allies, Inc. is a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing housing, healthcare, meaningful employment and recreational activities to people with special needs in the communities of their choice. To learn more, visit www.alliesnj.org.
“A world where limitation does not distinguish nor define.”
Contact: Nicole Zamerovsky, Director of Communications, Allies, Inc.